House Finance Committee grills CIAA chief Karki

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
House Finance Committee grills CIAA chief Karki

Nov 5, 2014-

Lawmaker Surendra Pandey stopped Chief Commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Lok Man Singh Karki as he was preparing to leave the meeting of the parliamentary Finance Committee after presenting his explanation by saying, “You cannot leave the meeting midway. You have to listen to us.”

As other lawmakers also backed Pandey, Karki had no option but to sit down and listen to their tirades. Pandey accused the CIAA of overstepping its jurisdiction. “The CIAA is a watchdog, not a biting dog.”

He asked the chief of the anti-graft body why he had ordered the cancellation of the licences of hydropower projects as its job was only to investigate cases of suspected corruption and not make executive decisions.

Almost all the lawmakers said that the CIAA had exceeded its jurisdiction, and that it had gotten involved in too many issues. Lawmaker CP Mainali said that the CIAA had directed the

Energy Ministry to terminate the licences of hydro projects without even discussing it with their developers. Karki tried to convince the committee that the CIAA’s action was within its jurisdiction and that it hadn’t told the Energy Ministry to scrap the licences but to take the necessary action as per the Electricity Act, Electricity Regulation, Directive on Hydropower Project Licensing, survey licence, power purchase agreement, financial closure and the conditions stated in the licence.

Responding to charges by lawmakers that the CIAA was hampering development projects, Karki said, “We are also committed to developing an investment friendly climate. However, development should be as per the constitution and legal provisions of Nepal.”

He added that the CIAA had asked the Energy Ministry to penalize the Kabeli-A Hydropower Project and over a dozen other projects as per the legal setup, not to cancel their licences. “Our duty is just to direct, and that is what we did. The issue of penalizing depends on the ministry,” Karki said.

However, the lawmakers were not impressed. Most of them said that the CIAA had become involved in petty issues and had not been able to catch the “big fish”. “The CIAA has strangely not been able to catch people but has been going after projects. The CIAA has tried to overstep its jurisdiction and has exercised unnecessary power,” said lawmaker Rewati Raman Bhandari.  

Karki had read from a prepared text at the committee meeting before he was forced to sit down and listen to the lawmakers. In his speech, Karki said that the CIAA was concerned by the tendency of occupying rivers and not developing the project. He also said that the CIAA’s move was based on the mandate given to it by the Constitution and the law. He also asked the legislators not to call the CIAA to other parliamentary committees except the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee as per the Operational Procedure of Parliament 2070.

Lawmaker Pandey replied that Parliament had prepared the operational guideline for its own convenience and that the CIAA was answerable to each and every parliamentary committee.

Karki had been summoned by the committee to explain the CIAA’s directive to terminate the licences of over a dozen hydropower projects including the Kabeli-A Hydropower Project in which the Nepal government, World Bank Group and private sector developer Butwal Power Company Limited (BPCL) own shares.

Energy, finance ministers no-shows

Even though the meeting of Finance Committee of Parliament had invited Energy Minister Radha Gyawali, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat and Energy Secretary Rajendra Kishore Kshatri to Wednesday’s meeting, only Finance Secretary Suman Sharma showed up. Lawmakers criticized them for skipping the meeting which had been organised to clarify the issue of the CIAA’s jurisdiction and its intervention in several hydropower projects.

Most of the lawmakers said that the meeting could not come to a concrete conclusion due to the absence of crucial stakeholders. The Finance Committee meeting concluded with the decision that the committee would invite the energy minister and the secretary to its next meeting to take a final call over the issue.

Published: 06-11-2014 09:18

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment