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Mobile phone licence to CG Telecom: Authority undecided as the CIAA’s sword of Damocles hangs over it

In 2013, CG Telecom (then named STM) had applied for a licence but was disqualified for the lack of sufficient mobile towers.
In 2013, Binod Chaudhary’s CG Telecom (then named STM) had applied for a licence but was disqualified for the lack of sufficient mobile towers.

Kathmandu, February 25

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority leadership had called a meeting of the authority’s board meeting for Thursday. The main item of the set agenda was issuing a mobile phone licence to CG Telecom as instructed by the government.

However, the country’s telecommunications regulator could not make any decision yesterday as an imminent action from the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority loomed over it as a sword of Damocles.

An authority source says its leadership is sandwiched between opposite pressures, and it will suffer on both conditions: if it decides for or against CG Telecom owned by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s aid and Nepal’s only billionaire, Binod Chaudhary.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has put pressure on the authority to issue the mobile phone licence as soon as possible. But, on the other hand, the authority has also received some hints that the anti-corruption constitutional body is closely looking into the case.

Apparently, the commission can book authority officials over the decision as CG Telecom has not met the criteria to receive the licence. The government is tampering with the criteria to favour Chaudhary.

Because the commission is currently led by Prem Rai, a man close to the CPN-UML, it is more likely that it will be stricter against the Nepali Congress leaders.

The Chaudhary Group had made efforts to obtain the licence during the UML-led government’s term also, but the government had remained adamant.

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