Auditor general says minister lied to House panel

  • Tanka Mani Sharma says Rabindra Adhikari did not consult his office before making payment for the jets
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Dec 27, 2018-

Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma have made different claims regarding the purchase of two wide-body aircraft by Nepal Airlines Corporation.

During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament on Tuesday, Minister Adhikari had claimed that the payment for the purchase of the two Airbus A330 jets was made after consulting with the officials at the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

Auditor General Sharma, however, told the House committee on Wednesday that neither Adhikari nor any officials from his ministry had consulted his office before making the payment.

The national flag carrier had purchased the planes from the US-based AAR Corp for $209.6 million, the largest ever aircraft purchase deal in Nepal’s aviation history. 

“The Office of the Auditor General does not hold any rights to suggest the government for any kind of payment. This is not our mandate. Neither the minister has visited my office nor I to discuss this matter. Our job is to prepare the report and submit it to the President, not counsel the government,” Sharma told the PAC. 

“Minister Adhikari seemed uncomfortable when I asked him why he had mentioned to the committee that there had been a consultation between his ministry and the Office of the Auditor General regarding the aircraft purchase deal,” he added. 

Earlier, Adhikari had told a PAC sub-committee that he had consulted the matter with Sharma and that the latter had advised him to bring the aircraft first and the rest could be discussed later.

Sharma said Adhikari gave false and inaccurate information to the sub-committee that was probing into the case.

The PAC had opened an inquiry into the deal on November 26 after reports surfaced about financial irregularities in the aircraft purchase deal. Rajan KC, who heads the sub-committee spearheading the inquiry, told the Post that with the ministry and the OAG officials providing conflicting statements on the aircraft purchase deal, the PAC has decided to summon senior officials from the Citizen Investment Fund and Employment Provident Fund 

that had provided the NAC the money to procure the planes. 

Published: 27-12-2018 06:43

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