Print Edition - 2015-06-20 | News
PAC demands action against minister, secy
- relief irregularities
Jun 19, 2015-
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday demanded stern action against Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka and Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki for their involvement in irregularities in purchasing tents and tarpaulin for survivors of April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks.
Concluding that the irregularities were guided by the motive to utilise the disaster as an opportunity to earn money, lawmakers said those involved should not be allowed to walk scot-free.
Probe reports of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), National Vigilance Centre and the Office of the Prime Minister have pointed out the involvement of Minister Khadka and Secretary Karki in misusing funds allocated to purchase over 400,000 tents and tarpaulin.
A report of the MoUD probe panel states that 3,199 tarpaulins were distributed without receipts while 2,332 were provided to various organisations and individuals without disclosing their names. “The ministry’s report states that four tents were provided to Lele Medical College upon request from Shankar Bhandari and details of the recipients were recorded. However, same procedure was not followed while distributing 2,332 and 3,119 tents in separate lots,” said Nepali Congress lawmaker Dhan Raj Gurung.
CPN-UML lawmaker Bikash Lamsal asked the Prime Minister to take action against the minister and secretary as per his commitment to “jail anyone found involved in misusing relief”. “Our national image has been tarnished globally with reports of irregularities coming in the media and people continue to raise questions. Those involved in irregularities should be booked before the donor conference to give a message that the government is committed to transparency,” Lamsal said.
The lawmakers also pointed out that the price of tarpaulin was higher even after the government waived customs tax for such materials. “The ministry has paid Rs 7 for per gram tarpaulin of 150 gsm while it purchased the same sized tarpaulin at the cost of 7.35 after the tax was waived,” said Congress lawmaker Ram Hari Khatiwada.
Citing an investigation carried out by the Prime Minister’s Office, Khatiwada claimed Rs 120 million was released to transport 11,000 pieces of tents provided by Pakistan government to Nepal via Calcutta port. “If that’s true, it is a serious misuse of state resources in the name of relief,” he said.
Khadka and Karki accepted their weakness in purchasing and distributing tents but clarified that they had worked without ill intention while delivering service to the quake survivors. Karki, meanwhile, demanded that performance of other government agencies should also be evaluated. Based on complaints from the MoUD, the House panel has also summoned Commerce Minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa and Secretary Naindra Prasad Upadhyay to appear before the committee. It also plans to grill ministers and top officials from Home, Foreign Affairs and Local Development ministries on the matter.
Published: 20-06-2015 07:58