PAC buckles under political pressure

Kathmandu, January 7

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has apparently faced political pressure while finalising its sub-committee’s report related to alleged financial irregularities during the wide-body aircraft purchase deal of Nepal Airlines Corporation.

Speaking to THT, lawmaker Chanda Chaudhary of Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, who is a member of the sub-panel that was formed to probe the possible anomalies in the deal, claimed that the PAC faced political pressure while finalising the investigation report.

“Due to political pressure PAC has removed the name of a high-ranking government official from its final report, which also mentions that the civil aviation minister needs to only take the moral responsibility for the deal, which is unfair,” she added.

PAC member and a central committee member of Nepali Congress, Minendra Rijal, also expressed dissatisfaction with the final report.

“Favouring someone and omitting the person’s name due to their political affiliation and naming others for the irregularities is against the basic principles of democracy,” he told this daily.

The PAC today endorsed the sub-committee’s report related to financial irregularities in the purchase of the two Airbus A330-200 wide-body aircraft by NAC, assigning only moral responsibility of corruption worth Rs 4.34 billion on Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari.

Earlier, the sub-committee’s report had implicated Adhikari, claiming that he was also involved in financial irregularities.

The meeting endorsed the report with some amendments.

The PAC has not recommended action against Minister Adhikari and his two predecessors, Jitendra Narayan Dev and Jeevan Bahadur Shahi, but held them morally responsible for the irregularities in the purchase of the aircraft.

The meeting, however, has concluded that Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai is innocent and did not have any role to play in the procurement process.

The sub-committee had recommended suspension of Rai and Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota. Rai was the tourism secretary and chairman of the NAC board when the deal was finalised and the sub-panel had concluded that he had initiated the procurement process violating NAC bylaws.

The final report, however, mentions that former tourism secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari was involved in irregularities. As recommended by the sub-committee, the PAC has also named NAC Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar as the key player in committing irregularities.

Moreover, the PAC meeting has recommended that the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority launch an investigation against Shankar Prasad Adhikari, Devkota and Kansakar.

The parliamentary committee has said Devkota and Kansakar be immediately suspended and legal action taken against both of them.

Amended report

  • Holds minister, ex-ministers only morally responsible for irregularities in the deal
  • Absolves Home Secy Rai of any wrongdoing
  • Recommends suspension of Devkota and Kansakar
  • Recommends CIAA probe against Adhikari, Devkota and Kansakar