Appointment of NTB chief mired in controversy

KATHMANDU, NOV 26 -
Controversy has engulfed the appointment of a new chief executive officer (CEO) for the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) with short-listed candidates seeking political patronage. Moreover, the selection is likely to be delayed as the term of the NTB’s board expires on Nov 30.
The appointment process has been marked by high drama with the Supreme Court making see-saw decisions and one of the selection committee members being replaced. On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Lokendra Bista Magar cancelled the scheduled presentations by short-listed candidates of their vision for the NTB.
Although the appointment of the CEO is supposed to be based on free competition with competency and experience being the major criteria, the present selection is turning into a purely political appointment. With political manoeuvring in full swing, the selection committee has not been able to recommend three names out of the short-listed 12 candidates.
Sources said that influence of the Tourism Ministry and Maoist-affiliated players was clearly visible, and they charged that the seat would go to a candidate loyal to the Maoists. They based their claim on the replacement on Tuesday of selection committee member Dhurba Narayan Shrestha by Agni Kadel who is considered to be loyal to the Maoists. With the appointment of Kadel, Maoist loyalists now have total control over the committee.
According to NTB sources, cancellation of the presentation by short-listed candidates on Wednesday shows that the Tourism Ministry is not keen on appointing a new CEO soon. Tourism Ministry sources said that it wants its man to head the NTB.
With the NTB board expiring on Nov 30, Minister Bista is keen to form a new board first before naming the CEO. “Currently, homework to appoint new board members is going on,” said NTB sources. NTB sources said that six out of the 12 short-listed candidates were close to the Maoists. “The problem is that Minister Bista also wants his men in both the board and the top position of the NTB.”
With only five days remaining for the NTB board to expire, selection committee members said that selection of a new CEO would not happen within that time. “The selection of a CEO is now in the hands of the tourism minister,” said Ganesh Simkhada, a member of the selection committee. “It is not possible to appoint a CEO within four days, however, we are trying our best to name the chief before our term expires.”
source: TKP

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