What will RNAC do now? Underground Fake and Corruption in RNAC board.
By a staff reporter
When the RNAC management decided about two weeks back to lease an aircraft from the lowest bidder in a global tender, it looked like the Airline was going to get the best deal since it began leasing planes about seven years ago.
Moreover, when the lease would expire in 18 months, RNAC would by then have its own wide-bodied Boeing 767 300 ER plane, giving an exit to the practice of leasing planes.
But the cookies crumbled before RNAC could celebrate. Babcock and Brown, an Irish company, which had been chosen to supply the plane said last week that it was backing out off the deal citing reasons of more attractive deals elsewhere.
Corporate blues : RNAC still does not have an aircraft even after the calling of three global tenders.
What will RNAC do now? Although officials of RNAC have not said anything on whether there is any provision for taking action against the company for backing out of the deal, a source within the Corporation said there is nothing the airline can do except forfeit the bid bond of US$ 25,000.
Now, RNAC may not have the option of going through the global tender once again. Thus, it is thinking of giving the contract to the next closest bidder-the Annset Worldwide Aviation Services of Australia. The Australian company has reportedly been called for negotiations. A deal with Annset means RNAC will have to pay about Rs. 200 million more.
Annset had quoted a price of US$ 4100 per flight hour for a 7-year-old plane and 200 dollars more for a 5-year-old plane.
Although some within the RNAC think the price can be lowered through negotiation, others do not think so, saying Annset has the upper hand now.
Coming back to the failed Babcock & Brown agreement, some blame the RNAC management for the loss of the deal. “If the RNAC had made a decision quickly and had signed the contract, the plane may not have slipped away,” said a high ranking official at the Corporation. Then even if the leaser had breached the agreement, then it could be sued, he added.
There are also others who are unwilling to accept B & B’s reason for not supplying the aircraft. They even suspect some kind of secret liaison between Annsett and Babcock & Brown and the latter being portrayed as a dummy company.
With RNAC contemplating leasing a plane from Annset, people are again suspecting mainly Sujata Koirala, the Prime Minister’s daughter, of being involved in the leasing deal, which could bring in millions of rupees in commission.
Ms. Koirala and some others were being taken as acting from behind the curtain for Annset and for trying to give the lease deal to the Australian company. Now, with Babcock & Brown walking away, the path may be clear for Ms. Koirala and others to reap a rich benefit from the deal.
Meanwhile, RNAC’s employees are trying to pressurise their management not to enter into a deal with Annset at its present rate.
One staff also informed that RNAC regulations does not say the management should go for the second best bidder if the deal with the first bidder fails.
“We want the management to either cut down the price or go through the whole process once again,” he said.
But RNAC may not have enough time to repeat the whole process of calling for another global tender. Again, what guarantee is there that it will get a better deal?
Meanwhile, a government decision may also stand in the way of the Corporation calling a fresh tender. The government has recently formed a committee to look into RNAC and the committee has instructed the Airline not to start any steps for leasing or buying planes for one month until it makes a decision on what to do with the national Flag Carrier. That may mean stalling decisions for one month with effects being felt in the future.
Nepal-Bhutan talks begin Monday
By a staff reporter
The ninth ministerial-level meeting between Nepal and Bhutan on the Bhutanese refugee issue will start from May 22 in Thimpu, the Bhutanese capital. The eighth ministerial meeting was held in autumn last year in Kathmandu.
This time the Nepalese side looks a bit optimistic that the talks will find a way towards the categorization of the refugees, which it thinks could lead to the resolution of the problem.
The optimism is mainly based on the recent statements of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata, who said that the Bhutanese King and the government had told her that Bhutan was willing to take back its citizens.
Ms. Sadako had visited to both Nepal and Bhutan only a short time ago.
However, there are conflicting reports on how many of the people lodged in the different camps in Eastern Nepal, will be “categorised” as refugees by the Bhutanese authorities. There are over 100,000 refugees, but Bhutanese officials have been quoted as saying only a little over 300 are citizens of Bhutan.
Also, many who have been watching Bhutan’s attitude in the last eight rounds of talks are still sceptical about whether Bhutan really means what it has said to the UN High Commissioner.
Bhutan may be under growing pressure from the international community to show a positive response towards resolving the refugee problem as soon as possible. The visit of the UN High Commissioner and her statements can be taken as an example of this.
Meanwhile, Bhutan may be trying to improve its relations with its other neighbouring countries. Presently, the Bhutanese Foreign Minister Jigme Thinley is in Bangladesh. Nepal was also one of Bhutan’s good friends in the past. There are a lot of areas where the two sides could cooperate, the main sector being tourism. But the once friendly relations have soured because of the refugee problem. It is certain that unless the refugee issue is resolved and Bhutan takes back all its citizens relations with Nepal will not improve, not in the near future.