President’s motorcade faces red light

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Nov 22, 2018-

Amid widespread criticism of government’s plan to expand the area of Office of the President by acquiring Nepal Police Academy and purchasing a set of new vehicles for President Bidya Devi Bhandari and her convoy, the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature Parliament has started preparations to probe the matter.

The committee on Tuesday decided to probe the government plan, terming it a matter of public interest and having long-term impact.

Stakeholders from several quarters of the society, including leaders from the main opposition, former bureaucrats and eminent personalities, have raised their voice against the move terming it unnecessary and misuse of taxpayers’ money.

The previous government of Sher Bahadur Deuba had floated the plan to purchase an armoured vehicle for President Bhandari and additional vehicles for her convoy.

The President’s Office had sought Rs160 million to buy vehicles last year. The Deuba administration had sanctioned Rs40 million initially. The President’s Office, however, sought additional Rs140 million from the Defence Ministry for the purpose.    

Prime Minister KP Oli’s government courted another controversy last month following its decision to shift Nepal Police Academy from its current location in Maharajgunj to Panauti. The academy, with a history of 70 years, spreads over an area of 194 ropanis.

The President’s Office has claimed expansion to be guided by requirement of developing a helipad within its premises to ensure the public does not face traffic congestion whenever the head of state needs to travel as well as the disturbance caused by police training as the two facilities are located next to each other.    

The Cabinet had also decided to shift the office and residence of Vice President to the Social Welfare Council Nepal in Lainchaur. The council spreads over an area of 28 ropanis and has been built from funds donated by citizens.

PAC Chairman Bharat Kumar Shah told the Post, “Such decisions have long-term repercussions and hence need to be discussed at length. The committee secretariat is making necessary preparations. We will come up with a verdict after thorough discussions with agencies concerned.”

It is also necessary to discuss whether the country can afford to spend Rs180 million for the President’s motorcade, he added.

Published: 22-11-2018 07:18

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