House panel starts probe into financial anomalies in security printing press

Kathmandu, January 6

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament has started a probe into possible anomalies in the process of establishing security printing press and procurement of necessary machinery and equipment.

The House panel started the probe following complaints registered at the committee that billions of rupees have been embezzled in the process of establishing security printing press and procuring necessary equipment and machinery.

PAC today held discussions with experts on security printing press where they suspected financial embezzlement of up to Rs nine billion in the entire process of establishing the security printing press.

“Security printing is a highly sensitive issue and directly associated with the country’s sovereignty. However, the government is seen preparing to purchase low quality security printing technology at a higher cost,” said Bijaya Babu Mishra, an expert on security printing.

“The government is preparing to bring in security press worth Rs 35 billion as per government-to-government modality from France and Germany.

As we suspect anomalies worth up to Rs nine billion in the entire process, we expect an immediate and effective probe on this issue from the House committee,” said Mishra.

As per him, a high-tech security printing press costs a maximum of $200 million while the government is preparing to invest $300 million for the security printing press of a similar nature.

By establishing a security printing press in the country, the government plans to print secured documents, certificates and stickers including passports, excise-duty stickers and vehicle driving licences on its own.

Similarly, another expert on printing press, Sujeet Raj Pandey, stated that the process adopted to purchase security press machinery by bypassing the scientific global tender method clearly hints at financial anomalies in the entire process.

As lawmakers present in the meeting too questioned the government’s move to procure printing press equipment without announcing a global tender, the House committee decided to conduct a probe on this issue.

Meanwhile, a few lawmakers in the meeting also had doubts that the experts on security printing who were present today were hiding the complete details and lobbying so that they could bag the project.