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Wide body, wide stomach

By PR Pradhan

Finally, the Public Account Committee, on the basis of the report submitted by the sub-committee under the Committee in the federal parliament has submitted the report that there was corruption worth above 4.38 billion rupees while purchasing two wide-body Airbus aircraft. The committee has sought action against 38 government officials involved in corruption including sitting Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota and former tourism ministers Jeevan Bahadur Shahi and Jitendra Narayan Yadav. The report has stated that Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari too is responsible on moral ground. The sub-panel had sought action against the chief of the civil aviation regulatory body Sanjeev Gautam as well.
The committee has also recommended the immediate suspension of NAC General Manager Sugat Ratna Kansakar for further investigation.
Likewise, the sub-committee had sought action against former secretaries of the tourism ministry, Prem Rai and Shankar Prasad Adhikari, who have already retired. At present, Rai is the secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, later the Public Account Committee has tried to give clean chit to secretary Rai.
Other officials who have been named of being involved in financial irregularities in the aircraft purchase deal are Joint Secretary of Tourism Ministry Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank Chiranjibi Nepal, and then heads of Citizen Investment Trust and Employees Provident Fund. The sub-committee has also recommended action against the then NAC management and members of the committee formed to purchase the planes.
The committee has also suggested further investigation into the issue by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
Initially, People’s Review had raised the corruption issue on the wide body aircraft purchase deal. Finally, the Public Accounts Committee has reached to the conclusion on the corruption on the aircraft purchase deal. Still, it is doubtful that whether the recommendations made by the sub-committee will be implemented or not! Whether the CIAA will investigate in detail on this issue or not.
If there was a sense of ethics within him, Minister Adhikari had to tender his resignation after such a huge scandal. Also, the government had to suspend those officials involved in the corruption scam considering the chances of their possible activities to make the corruption scam weak. Specially, the main figure in the purchase deal, Nepal Airlines general manager Sugatratna Kangsakar should immediately be suspended, if not sacked.
Once, when People’s Review was publishing the corruption report, one colleague had said that the case will never surface as all the political powers have benefited from the deal. Minister Adhikari was found ill-intentioned when he constituted a probe committee by assigning none other than those who were involved in the purchase deal. The probe committee, as expected, had given a clean chit to those involved in the purchase deal. Secondly, the Minister had given clarification that after consultation with the auditor general, he had approved to send the final installment of the money. The next day, the auditor general had given clarification to the sub-committee saying that neither he was the authority to give advice to the minister nor he had advised to the Minister regarding payment of the final installment.
It is odd to note that instead of accepting the committee report prepared by the powerful organ in the federal parliament [sovereign people’s representatives], the government has constituted a three-member panel to re-investigate the wide body Airbus purchase deal. This gives the clear message that the government is trying to protect Minister Adhikari and some high-ranking officials in the government. Furthermore, it makes clear that the present authorities in the government have also enjoyed the commission.
The government enjoying two-thirds majority has felt that it doesn’t need to follow the democratic norms and ethnics. In other cases also, suspects have been surfaced on the motive of the government. Why the Nepal Police was unable to locate Nirmala Pant’s murderer; why the government is reluctant in making public the 33-kg gold smuggling report, which is on the table of the PM; why the government was compelled to administer oath of office of MP Resham Chaudhari who is facing jail term on the allegation of murder following the court order! Is the government above the law?
It seems, it is very much difficult for the sovereign Nepali people to feed those corrupt leaders and officials having “wide” stomach!

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