JTCC issues white paper on irregularities in NTB

JTCC

Office-bearers of JTCC at a press meet organized to unveil the white paper in Kathmandu.

Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) on Monday issued a white paper on anomalies allegedly perpetrated by acting CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Subash Niroula.

In the white paper, the Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) – a forum of different travel trade associations – has argued that the amended Financial Bylaws of NTB contradicts with the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.

President of PATA Nepal Chapter Suman Pandey read out the white paper.

As per the Bylaws, the CEO can spend up to Rs 10 million at a time for tourism promotion activities inside the country and US$ 400,000 at a time outside the country without following due procedure prescribed by the Public Procurement Act. In addition to that, the Bylaws allow NTB to procure goods and services worth up to Rs 2.5 million without inviting tender. As per the Public Procurement Act, offices should ask for quotation to purchase goods worth more than Rs 1 million.

Niroula has also been blamed of freezing NTB’s bank accounts maintained at Nepal Investment Bank and Nabil Bank. The accounts were operated by NTB Director Nandini Lahe Thapa.

“Earlier, auditors could conduct independent audit and submit report to the committee. But the amended bylaws say auditors have to work as per the direction of the chief executive. This shows Niroula is involved in financial anomalies,” Deepak Mahat, president of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal), said at the program.

Tourism entrepreneurs have also accused Niroula of submitting expenses of his personal visits to India at the board. Niroula has also been accused to traveling in economy class and submitting the expenditure of business class tickets.

JTCC has also accused Niroula of hiring his near and dear ones as interns instead of fulfilling the vacant posts at NTB. Besides, he has been accused of creating posts such as officer in-charge, manager in-charge and deputy CEO going against the Employees Bylaws.

Ramesh Dhamala, coordinator of Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) and president of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), said the three-member probe panel formed by the tourism ministry on Sunday won’t be acceptable for them. “The government should first include representatives of private sector and tourism experts in the team,” Dhamala added.

Representatives of around 31 different travel trade associations are protesting against NTB, on the aegis of JTCC, for the past two weeks.

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