Government begins process to buy presidential carcade

  • Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee asks ministries to furnish documents
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Nov 30, 2018-

Amid a public outcry over the preparations to purchase an expensive motorcade for the President, the government has started procuring four vehicles including an armoured jeep at a cost of more than Rs140 million.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his ministers have defended this widely criticised move arguing that the new institutions of the federal republic need to be

strengthened.

The government opened a $1,234,468 letter of credit on November 21 in the name of MS Bora Intertrade Co Ltd of Thailand after the Finance Ministry approved Rs141.3 million to purchase a bullet-proof vehicle, two escort jeeps and a bus on July 30.

According to the Defence Ministry, it had requested the Finance Ministry two years ago to release budget necessary for buying a bullet-proof Land Cruiser, two Toyota escort SUVs, a 19-seater minibus and an ambulance.

The Defence Ministry permitted the Army on 24 July, 2016 to go ahead with the purchase. On 9 August 2017, the Finance Ministry allowed the Army to purchase five vehicles within a budget of Rs161.3 million but the force requested the Defence Ministry on July 10 to buy only four vehicles.

The bullet-proof vehicle costs $568,000, the escort jeep $463,280 and the bus costs $203,188. Government has opened the LC for $1,234,468.

According to officials, the President’s Office has written to the ministry to hand over the motorcade after purchase.

Opposition leaders, former bureaucrats and eminent personalities criticised the move as “unnecessary” and “misuse of taxpayers’ money”.

During a press briefing last Thursday, government Spokesperson Gokul Prasad Baskota urged all not to drag the offices of the President and the Vice President into a controversy.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has started preparations to probe the matter. Besides the set of new vehicles for President Bhandari and her convoy, the government’s plan to expand the Sheetal Niwas area by acquiring the Nepal Police Academy and shifting the Vice President’s office to the Social Welfare Council premises in Lainchaur received widespread criticism.

The PAC has decided to probe the government’s plan, terming it a matter of serious public concern. “We will seek the documents from the concerned ministries,” said Bharat Kumar Shah, the PAC chairman.

Shah said it was necessary to discuss if the country can afford to spend so much money on the President’s motorcade.

Defence Ministry Spokesperson Baburam Gautam said the Army has gone ahead with the purchase after the Finance Ministry approved the budget.

Published: 30-11-2018 07:23

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