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Government challenges parliamentary supremacy in wide body case

By Our Reporter
Prime Minister K P Oli, who reiterates his commitment to zero tolerance to corruption in his every speech now seems to be trying his best to give protection to the corrupt ministers and secretaries. It is evident from the formation of a powerful committee to look into the wide-body aircraft scam in which over 4 billion rupees was misappropriated when the parliament committee—Public Accounts Committee– was still looking into the issue.
This also showed that the CPN government has no faith in parliamentary system.
The government formed the committee with an intention of giving a clean chit to Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai as the sub-committee formed by PAC under the leadership of Rajendra Kumar KC recommended actions against the two including other former ministers and secretaries.
When the sub-committee reached a conclusion that Minister Adhikari, secretary Rai and others had their hands in the scam, the government formed the committee fearing that the PAC might endorse the recommendation.
As feared by the government, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament on Monday directed the government and Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to hold the former and sitting Tourism Ministers – Jiban Bahadur Shahi, Jitendra Dev and Rabindra Adhikari –morally responsible in the procurement of the wide-body jets and punish them as per the law.
The sub-committee formed to look into the issue had recommended holding the former two ministers morally responsible and taking actions against the incumbent Minister Adhikari, the PAC demanded similar actions against them.
The PAC had directed the government and the CIAA to suspend Secretary of the Tourism Ministry Krishna Prasad Devkota and Director General of the NAC Sugat Ratna Kansakar and initiate a process to exert maximum punishment to them as they incurred a huge loss to the country.
Similarly, the committee said that Kansakar played the main role in purchasing the old aircraft with ill-intention. “He has abused the authority of his post, therefore, he should be suspended and punished severely.”
The PAC has demanded similar actions against the erstwhile Tourism Secretary and NAC Board Chairman Shankar Prasad Adhikari.
It also held the NAC Board members responsible in abusing their authority and demanded severe actions against them.
However, the PAC gave a clean chit to former Tourism Secretary and NAC Board Chairman Prem Kumar Rai, probably at the pressure of Prime Minister K P Oli.
Meanwhile, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari has denied all accusations of financial misappropriation labelled on him by the sub-committee formed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament in the purchase of the two wide-body aircraft for the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) last year.
“I am not involved in the procurement process of the wide-body Airbus 330-200. I had only tried to ensure that the aircraft were delivered to the NAC on time, and operate commercial flights using those planes,” he said at a press conference organised to give his say on the wide-body purchase scam.
He appealed to the anti-graft bodies to conduct a transparent investigation into the matter and bring out the truth and punish the guilty.
Minister Adhikari also assured his full cooperation in the investigation process.
He made his say public five days after the PAC subcommittee concluded that about Rs. 4.355 billion was misappropriated while obtaining the jets, and recommended taking stern actions against the incumbent Tourism Minister.
Govinda Parajuli leads the government-formed committee.

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