West Seti: Minister challenges to present proof of irregularity

KATHMANDU: Minister for Energy Post Bahadur Bogati has challenged opposition parties to present proof if they smell any irregularities in the West-Seti Hydropower Project (WSHP) contract signed by the government with the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC).
Minister Bogati vented frustration against the opposition for ‘unnecessarily suspecting’ government’s intentions, which Bogati claimed would ‘hinder any other international investors from entering Nepal’.
“None of the big foreign investors will enter Nepal, if the contract signed with the CTGC for the construction of WSHP is terminated,” warned Bogati claiming the government had skipped the regular procedure for averting delay in the construction of the project and thereby securing national interests.
Speaking at the Reporters Club Nepal on Sunday, Minister Bogati refuted opposition’s claims that the government did not abide with existing regulations on awarding a contract. Expressing readiness to face charges if the proof is presented, he urged for not obliterating the process, “just for politics’ sake”.
“The government signed the contract using the authority endowed to it by clause 35 of Electricity Act-2049,” said the Minister warning that the contract would be terminated if financial resources were not managed within the timeframe.
WSHP is one of the much ambitious projects of the government and has topped the agenda of every government and energy minister for the past sixteen years. Though Australian company Snowy Mountains Energy Corporation (SMEC) had received license to generate electricity, it gave it up last July after failing to garner sufficient financial investments for constructing the 750 MW project.
Since than the government was on hunt for a contractor to take on the project and after rounds of negotiations between the Chinese and Nepal’s government, CTGC and the Energy Ministry had signed Memorandum of Understanding on February 29 to construct the project under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
However during the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means (CNRM) on Friday had directed the government not to implement the MoU, unless it finished its investigation.
Opposition lawmakers in the committee had claimed that the deal was not ‘transparent’ and that there were ‘vested interests’ involved in deal as the government had signed the deal ‘overnight’.
Contrary to those claims of the opposition lawmakers, Minister Bogati claimed that the government had grabbed the deal, as it would deliver 750 MW of electricity in just 12 months.
He informed that the CTGC will invest 75 percent funds and that Chinese EXIM Bank will provide 25 percent of remaining funds to the government in the form of soft loan for developing the project.
The Minister said that the project was not yet awarded to the CTGC as claimed by the opposition and informed that the government would study the financial and technical evaluation report of the project before finalizing the deal.
Along with the deal, Minister Bogati claimed that the both sides were yet to finalize the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and informed that agreement will be made after investments necessary for the project were secured.
However former Energy Minister and Nepali Congress leader Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat flayed the government and the deal at the same program while claiming that ‘non-transparent’ deal would never benefit the nation.
Accusing the government of not adopting a competitive process for awarding the project, he claimed such ‘non-transparent’ agreement would jeopardize nation’s relationship with friendly nation-China- by pulling it into controversy.

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