The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has begun hunting for a new chief executive officer (CEO) after being without a head for the past three and a half years. The key post is expected to be filled by July 17.
The NTB has started the appointment process at a time when the country’s tourism industry has been shattered by the recent earthquake that destroyed tourism destinations and infrastructure leading to mass cancellations of hotel bookings.
The NTB on Wednesday invited fresh applications for the position of CEO while it has kept the earlier process alive. The board had shortlisted 12 applicants in the first week of November 2011.
Among the shortlisted candidates, former NTB senior director Subash Nirola has been charge-sheeted in a corruption scam and is ineligible to compete until he is cleared by the courts.
The NTB has been stumbling along without a head since October 31, 2011 when the then CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha’s tenure expired. Due to a dispute among private sector representatives, the NTB has suffered several setbacks in its efforts to appoint a new boss.
However, the process to appoint the new chief at the board more forward after the Tourism Ministry amended its CEO selection procedure.
Under the amended procedure, Mohan Krishan Sapkota, joint secretary at the ministry, has been named the new member of the three-member CEO selection sub-committee.
Under the NTB Act and Regulation, a three-member sub-committee should be formed from among the five members representing the private sector on the board to appoint the CEO. However, due to various legal hurdles, the NTB board has not been able to appoint the three members from the private sector.
The CEO selection sub-committee is led by Ghanendra Shrestha, a board member representing the private sector and Rajendra Sapkota, who is also a another board member from the private sector. “The formation of the sub-committee became possible after the CEO selection procedure was amended allowing the inclusion of one government official as the third member,” said Shrestha. “We have given 15 days to all applicants to submit their curriculum vitae and other required documents.”
Shrestha said that they decided to give an opportunity to fresh candidates too as there were a number of hopefuls in the market. “We will do the first round of short listing soon and invite the CEO aspirants for a presentation and interview,” he said. The selection sub-committee will shortlist three candidates after the presentation and interview, and recommend their names to the NTB board which will select one from among them for the top post. “If things go as planned, the NTB will get a new CEO on July 17,” Shrestha said.
The NTB’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the government and the private sector besides the CEO. The tourism secretary chairs the board.
In the first week of November 2011, the three-member sub-committee had shortlisted 12 candidates. However, the process stalled after the terms of three of the five board members—Ganesh Simkhada, Nimi Sherpa and Agni Kadel—expired on November 30, 2011.
Since then, the process has been constantly disrupted by complaints filed at the Supreme Court against the appointment process.
In April, the selection of a CEO became even more complicated after the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority filed charges at the Special Court against 23 NTB employees, including sitting board members, on the charge of being involved in financial irregularities.
According to the NTB Act, a prospective CEO should have 10 years’ experience in the tourism sector and at least a Master’s degree.
Due to political manoeuvring and rampant irregularities, the NTB, formed under an exemplary public-private-partnership model, has not been functioning as per its aims.