Draft Civil Aviation Bill to be sent to Cabinet

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 26, 2018-

The Tourism Ministry is preparing to table the draft Integrated Civil Aviation Bill, which envisages splitting the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) into regulator and service provider, in the Cabinet to seek its approval ‘in principle’.

The Law Ministry has given its okay to the draft which was written by a government committee. After getting the Cabinet’s go-ahead, the Tourism Ministry will prepare the final draft and send it to the Law Ministry and the Cabinet for a second time. 

Discussions will be held on each clause in the bill at various parliamentary committees, and amendments may be made at this stage. 

“After the Cabinet’s approval, the consultation process will begin on issues like management of employees and separation of the organization’s property and liabilities which needs a great deal of planning,” said Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint secretary at the Tourism Ministry. 

“We are making preparations to take the proposal to the Cabinet, but it will be submitted to the incoming administration, not the current Cabinet ,” he said. “We have a clear position regarding Caan’s separation.” 

The issue regarding breaking up Caan had also featured in the technical committee meeting of the European Commission held in Brussels, Belgium last Friday. Officials of Caan and the Tourism Ministry were invited to the meeting to explain Nepal’s progress to address air safety deficiencies.  

“A member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs had also asked about the progress regarding Caan’s separation,” said Lamichhane, who was a member of the delegation.

After the bill is signed into law, it will supersede two existing laws: Civil Aviation Act 1959 and Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Act 1996.

Currently, Caan has been functioning both as regulator and service provider from the same office, and there is no clear demarcation between its duties and organisational structure. 

As per the draft bill, Caan will continue to act as regulator while a separate Airport and Air Navigation Services will be set up to operate as service provider. 

The service provider will be a public limited company and be led by a CEO. Its key responsibilities will include airport management, terminal management, ground handling, airport security, rescue and fire fighting, airport infrastructure development, airport fee and tax collection and air traffic control. 

Likewise, the regulator will be responsible for licensing and regulating aviation professionals and pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers, airlines and aerodromes. The government has been working on the new law for the last nine years. 

The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (Icao) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme has recommended that Caan be split to make the aviation sector more efficient.

The new law will integrate the previous acts to eliminate conflicts and contradictions between Caan and the Tourism Ministry, a situation that has been criticised in safety audits conducted by global aviation bodies.

Breaking up Caan, which is among the components of the $4.2 million Air Transport Enhancement Project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is aimed at facilitating stringent enforcement of safety measures.

Published: 26-01-2018 08:39

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