Kathmandu, January 3
Former tourism ministers Jitendra Narayan Dev and Jeevan Bahadur Shahi have refuted the charges levelled against them by the parliamentary probe regarding their involvement in the financial irregularities in the wide-body aircraft purchase deal of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).
A day after a report of the sub-committee under the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature-Parliament alleged their involvement in the financial irregularity, which is estimated to be worth Rs 4.34 billion while purchasing the two wide-body planes for NAC, the ministers have stated that they were not involved in any misdeed in the concerned case.
Citing that Dev and Shahi should take the moral responsibility in the anomalies seen in the wide-body aircraft purchase deal as they failed to ensure that the entire aircraft purchasing deal complied with the Public Procurement Act and they also allowed currency exchange facility for payments of the aircraft by overlooking the anomalies, the parliamentary sub-committee had recommended legal action against both Dev and Shahi.
Commenting on the concerned charges against him, Shahi said, “The decision to allow the payment to be made for the aircraft that NAC bought was not ill-intentioned and the decision was completely based on the interest of the government.”
With regard to the sub-panel’s charge that the wide-body aircraft procurement process had not followed the Public Procurement Act and that Shahi should take the moral responsibility for it, Shahi said that the parliamentary committee probe should not overlook the decision of the Supreme Court, which earlier had given a verdict that the procurement process was fair and as perexisting laws.
“The entire procurement process of the wide-body aircraft including the tender process had been carried out before I was appointed the tourism minister. As the entire procurement process of these aircraft is under the jurisdiction of NAC, I do not have any involvement in the case and I see no point in taking the moral responsibility in the concerned case,” said Shahi.
Likewise, former tourism minister Dev, who has also been implicated in the case, denied his involvement in any anomalies during his tenure in the wide-body purchase deal. As per him, every decision regarding the wide-body purchase process during his tenure had been made from the secretary-level and he does not have any involvement in the case.
However, Dev said that he is yet to go through the report of the sub-committee and would present his detailed comments on this issue thereafter.
A version of this article appears in print on January 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.