PAC launches probe into relief ‘irregularities’

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 17, 2015-

The Public Account Committee (PAC) has summoned Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka and Secretary Arjun Karki before panel’s meeting on Friday to clarify the charges of financial irregularities in the procurement of tents and tarpaulins meant for earthquake victims.

The parliamentary panel’s decision follows a study report prepared by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) and the National Vigilance Centre (NVC) that suggests massive irregularities in the procurement of tents and tarpaulin sheets. Besides they also reported huge price disparities even for tents and tarpaulin of same make and sizes.

Following the earthquake, the MoUD had formed a six-member special procurement team under Shambhu KC, director general of Urban Development Department, to negotiate with the importers and fix the price and quantity. The team had purchased more than 450,000 tents and tarpaulin sheets.

A report prepared by MoUD Joint-secretary Mahendra Subba shows more than 3,000 tents and tarpaulins had been distributed without receipts with hundreds of them being doled out to non-victims. It has also revealed that 2,332 tents and tarpaulins had been distributed to individuals close to ministry officials.

“The Ministry report suggests 3,199 tents and tarpaulin sheets were distributed without receipts and huge discrepancies in price during procurement,” said PAC member Dhan Raj Guring, clarifying the reason for summoning them before the panel.

In the report, Secretary Karki and other officials have said that most of the relief materials—tents and tarpaulins—had been distributed at night and they could not keep a record of the receipts due to load shedding. PAC members , however, dismissed that argument, saying that there was no power outage in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes.

Lawmakers, who went through the ministry report, said most of the tents distributed without receipts were given to ministers, lawmakers and security officials. Those involved in relief distribution abused their power by giving away tents to ‘powerful people’, said lawmakers.

After going through the report prepared by the ministry and the NVC, PAC Chairman Janardan Sharma called for a thorough investigation into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of relief materials. “A detailed study needs regarding the duty-free excavators, tents, tarpaulin and other tools,” said Sharma.

Published: 18-06-2015 07:58

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