Hitendra Shakya appointed new Executive Director of NEA

Monday’s Cabinet meeting has appointed Hitendra Dev Shakya as the new Executive Director of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), five months after former director Kulman Ghising left the office after completing his tenure.

Shakya, who had entered NEA as the acting director on November 12, has been appointed as the new Executive Director on the direct proposal of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and without any organizational competition.

Former Energy Minister Barshaman Pun on September 14 had submitted a proposal to the Council of Ministers to re-appoint Kulman Ghising as the NEA’s Executive Director. However, PM Oli had refused to discuss the proposal saying that the new leadership would be appointed according to the prevalent law.

After much agitation from citizens demanding Ghising’s re-appointment, the government had cited the requirement to follow laws, procedures, competition and other reasons to not re-appoint him.

The then Nepal Communist Party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha had tweeted urging the government to re-appoint Kulman Ghising, for which, Press Advisor to the Prime Minister, Surya Thapa had replied on social media saying “there is a legal system of re-appointment and one should compete for the position”.

Not only Thapa, but other officials of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat had also expressed similar opinions – Kulman cannot be re-appointed without organizational competition.

However, no open competition was conducted before appointing Shakya the new executive Director.

“Shakya did not have to compete because he was chosen by the prime minister,” an official from the Energy Ministry said.

Earlier in 2016, NEA’s Executive Director was appointed through competition as per the Board of Directors (Formation and Operation) Order, 2012. At that time, Navin Singh and Madhu Bhetwal were competing against Kulman Ghising.

Sub-section 3 of Article 12 of the Board of Directors (Formation and Operation) Order states, “The Executive Chief Recommendation Committee shall select suitable candidates for appointment to the post of Executive Head of any department. Based on the presentation, the candidates will be evaluated and three eligible candidates who score highest marks will be selected and recommended to the Government of Nepal in alphabetical order.”

Nepal Electricity Authority is one of the 38 public corporations in the schedule of this formation order. However, the current government led by Oli had dismissed the ‘Board of Directors of Public Institutions’ on 2018.

The government has been making arbitrary appointments since the order was revoked. Guru Bhattarai, was appointed General Manager of the Nepal Railway Company by Cabinet meeting on the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli.