Nepal king has huge unpaid power bills: report
Saturday, 01 March 2008

Reuters/ . Kathmandu

Nepal’s King Gyanendra and his relatives owe about $880,000 to a state-run company in unpaid electricity bills, a newspaper report said on Thursday.

Bills for the power supplied to the king’s main sprawling palace in Kathmandu, other bungalows and homes of royal relatives have not been paid for nearly two years, Nepali daily Kantipur said, quoting an unnamed official of the state utility.

The government paid the king’s electricity bills until street protests in 2006 forced King Gyanendra to hand power to political parties after a brief period of absolute rule.

But the new government stripped him of almost all powers and withdrew most benefits funded by the state. ‘We have not received any payment after that,’ the newspaper quoted a Nepal Electricity Authority official as saying. ‘We send the bills every month but no one cares.’

A palace official said it was up to the government to clear the bills. ‘The government has to pay all the utility bills of the palace including telephone, electricity and water. It has never been a problem so far,’ a palace official, said.

Nepal’s ruling alliance, including former Maoist rebels, agreed in December to abolish the centuries-old Hindu monarchy after national elections due in April. The king’s picture on currency notes has since been replaced by that of Mount Everest and his portraits no longer hang from the walls of public buildings.

The electricity firm could cut off supply to the palace for payment default if the seven parties in the interim government gave the nod, the official said.

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