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Govt fixes 18 ministries including Office of PM in Center

Gorkha Post

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KATHMANDU — The government has fixed 18 ministries, including the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) from the current 30, at the central level, under the new federal setup.

A cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar on Friday fixed the number of ministries including the OPMCM at 18.

The Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli decided to limit the Cabinet to 18 ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, according to Environment Minister Lal Babu Pandit.

“Now the number of ministries will be 18, with the OPMCM included,” Minister Pandit told reporters following the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet decision comes two days after leaders of the left alliance–CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)–agreed to bring down the number of ministries to 18 at the federal level.

The new constitution has stated the central government can have a maximum of 25 ministers, including the prime minister.

Besides the OPMCM, the proposed 17 ministries are the federal affairs and general administration; ministries of finance and planning; foreign affairs; defense; physical infrastructure and transport; health and population; information and communications; law, justice and parliamentary affairs; culture, tourism and civil aviation; labor, employment, women and children; urban development, drinking water and sanitation; and agriculture, cooperatives and land management; education and sports; home affairs; forest and environment; water resources and energy; industry, commerce and supplies.

Likewise, the Cabinet meeting has also appointed CPN-UML politburo member Bishnu Rimal as Chief Political Advisor to PM. Earlier, Rimal had served as the chief political advisor during Oli’s previous premiership.

The decision will come into effect after the government endorses the proposal on the jurisdictions of the 17 ministries, according to OPMCM officials.

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Economy

Govt decides to award Budhi Gandaki Hydel project to Chinese firm again

Gorkha Post

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KATHMANDU — The government has decided to award contract for the construction of the 1,200-megawatt Budhigandaki hydropower project, a national pride project, to China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) once again.

A Cabinet meeting on Friday has decided to award the contract for the project to CGGCL reverting the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s decision to develop the 1200MW project with internal resources.

The Cabinet meeting has directed the Energy Ministry to initiate the process to award the project to the Chinese company.

Following the government decision, the Energy Ministry will now invite the Chinese company for talks and prepare a draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) before signing it, according to multiple sources at the ministry.

As per the Cabinet decision, the ministry has been asked to hold talks with the Gezhouba, prepare a proposal, and strike a deal to execute the $2.5 billion reservoir project.

Earlier on May 15, 2017, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to construct the Budhigandaki project to CGGCL, juat nine days before he was to resign from the PM’s post.

The Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to CGGCL at a cost of Rs 260 billion as per a study carried out by a French company, Tractebel Engineering.

The agreement, however, invited controversy as the project was handed to the Chinese company without initiating a competitive bidding process.

The Budhi Gandaki hydel project has been touted as a key project to resolve the perennial power crisis in the country. The government has allocated Rs18 billion for compensation payments and operational expenses for this fiscal year.

The Gorkha and Dhading district administration offices are currently distributing compensation to owners of the land taken over by the project.

More than 8,000 households will be affected by the project, according to the latest report.

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