PAC ‘to quiz’ PM over delay in action on NOC land deals

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu
There has been widespread criticism for the delay in initiating action against NOC chief Gopal Khadka who is accused of embezzling millions of rupees

Sep 17, 2017-The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is preparing to summon Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to discuss the delay on the part of the state mechanism(s) to act on various issues, including the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC)’s land purchase deals that have run into controversy. 

PAC officials are also concerned about the lackadaisical approach of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to expedite investigation into the NOC land deals, in which the state-owned oil monopoly’s chief Gopal Khadka has been accused of embezzling millions of rupees. 

On Thursday, the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of Parliament had dispatched a letter to the Ministry of Supplies, directing it not to assign any responsibility to Khadka until the probe is completed. 

Lawmakers say Khadka could influence investigation and destroy evidence if he is allowed to discharge duties as usual. PAC is planning to call the prime minister at its Wednesday’s meeting if the concerned authorities continue to maintain indifference towards serious issues of public concern, including the corruption in the NOC, said PAC Chairman Dor Prasad Upadhyay.

Government authorities have blamed the CIAA for dilly-dallying investigation into the NOC land deals, with some saying Khadka’s good personal relations with CIAA officials could be the reason for the snail-paced probe. 

CIAA Commissioner Sabitri Thapa Gurung denied the charges, saying the CIAA has to follow its own procedure while carrying out investigation.

But PAC Chairman Upadhyay said he smelt a rat. 

“Investigations are swift when it comes to small fry. The big fish often tend to get away,” said Upadhyay, adding that even he was wondering why PAC directives are not being implemented. 

A report by a sub-committee under the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of Parliament on Monday said the NOC paid three-four times the going rate while buying land plots and pointed to collusion between NOC officials and local government staffers. 

Similarly, an investigation by the Ministry of Supplies has found NOC chief Khadka’s involvement in irregularities. 

The MoS has already recommended action against Khadka.

There has been widespread criticism for the delay in initiating action on the NOC land deals. Supplies Minister Shiva Kumar Mandal said a decision on action against Khadka will be taken during the next Cabinet meeting. 

“But I am not sure when the next Cabinet meeting will take place,” Mandal told the Post. Regular Cabinet meetings are held on Mondays and Thursdays but Minister Mandal said, “This time the date for the next Cabinet meeting is yet to be fixed.”

 

Published: 17-09-2017 06:43

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