4-10 August 2017 #870

“Have faith in me”

Kulman Ghising in www.setopati.com, 2 August

My aggressive campaign to avoid load-shedding for a second consecutive winter is facing obstacles at every step. In a meeting with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament this week, MPs ordered the termination of a contract awarded to a Chinese company for installing a 25MW solar plant in Trisuli. The MPs also demanded an investigation against me, accusing the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) of not choosing the lowest bidder.

Awarding a contract is not just about choosing the lowest bidder: the history and capacity of the bidding company also needs to be taken into account. And this is what the NEA did when it chose Risen Energy.

The contract process for this solar project began in April 2015, after the World Bank agreed to provide a loan of Rs5 billion. The Bank itself disqualified three lowest bidders on technical grounds, and recommended the fourth lowest bidder. I had not been appointed Managing Director of the NEA at that time. The then MD wanted to choose the second lowest bidder, arguing that its technical problems were ‘minor deviations’. But the WB did not agree.

When I became MD, the NEA sought my views. I suggested stopping the entire process, and beginning afresh. But the World Bank said there was no valid reason to terminate the process, and threatened to withhold the loan. So we went ahead with the fourth lowest bidder.

MPs need to understand that it is the Wold Bank that is investing in this project, and we cannot do anything without its approval. So why investigate me when I had virtually no role in choosing the contractor?

Crooks see crooks everywhere. But that is not right: you must have faith in those who are working hard, and delivering results. If you want sweeping reforms, you have to take risks. This is what we are doing. There might be some flaws in the process, but my intention is good. Supplying 24-hour electricity is not going to be easy this winter but I am confident we can do it. I have taken on the ambitious goal of ending load-shedding once and for all. If you don’t want me to import electricity from India, buy LEDs and install solar panels, how do you expect me to end load-shedding? If there is load-shedding this winter, everyone will blame Kulman – so why are they not supporting Kulman now?

I sometimes feel that everyone has put the entire responsibility for ending load-shedding on me, but it is all of our responsibility.

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