Local govts defy centre’s order on ‘tourism fee’

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 8, 2017-Chairman of Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Nim Dorje Sherpa has said the municipality would continue collecting ‘tourism fee’ from the foreign visitors despite the government instruction not to do so.

Complaints were lodged at the MoFALD after the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality started charging Rs2,000 ‘tourism fee’ from each tourist entering its territory from October 1. 

After consultations with the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) on November 1 issued a notice, directing all the local levels not to collect ‘tourism fee’ from any visitors. 

“We have directed the local levels that they cannot collect tourism fees putting fences at their entry points,” said Dinesh Thapaliya, secretary at MoFALD, citing Local Government Operation Act 2017 and Inter-governmental Financial Management Act 2017 under the Constitution. 

Nepal Mountaineering Association Treasurer Sudarshan Neupane hailed the government’s move. The NMA has been urging the government to take necessary measures to stop such activities which would affect the whole of the tourism sector of the country. 

However, challenging the MoFALD decision, Sherpa said they would continue collecting the fee insisting that it had been endorsed by the assembly of the rural municipality. 

“We have started collecting the tourism fee as per the constitutional provision. Schedule 7 of the Nepal’s constitution states that local governments can collect ‘tourism fee’,” he told the Post over the phone. He said the rural municipality would plead its position in the court against the government move and that they would only follow the court order.

The Local Government Operation Act 2017 states the trekking and tourism rates would be determined and collected by the concerned province, but due to the lack of such laws, the government would continue with the existing system of collecting such fees. Concerned local levels can only collect the entry fees for gardens, parks, zoos, historical and archaeological heritages as per the Local Government Operation Act.

Changunarayan Municipality, which in 2014 decided to impose ‘tourism entry fee’ as per the Local Self-Governance Act 1999, started charging Rs226 from foreigners coming in from the Saarc region and Rs349 from other countries after the newly-elected local representatives took the reins.

Echoeing the sentiments of Sherpa, Changu Municipality officials have decided not to follow the MoFALD instruction. Changu Mayor Som Prasad Mishra said the local levels need to raise additional funds to sustain their activities. “Even in the MoFALD letter, there are many bases that allow us to continue collecting the fees,” Mishra said.

Published: 08-11-2017 07:35

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