Kathmandu, March 17

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority is looking into complaints of financial irregularities against Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project under the Ministry of Agricultural and Livestock Development.

According to a report published by the CIAA yesterday, the anti-graft body was carrying out investigation into complaints of financial indiscipline and embezzlement in construction of cold storage as per approved programmes for fiscal 2017-18 and 2018-19.

“Tendency of providing the grant meant for cold storage to other construction works has only served the purpose of handful of persons,” it read.

The anti-graft body has made a 12-point recommendation to the MoALD to make the grant systematic and transparent. It has directed the MoALD to initiate legal action against five firms, which received the first instalment of around Rs 110 million as advance to construct cold storages, but have yet to start the work.

Khumaltar-based Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project had provided advance payment to eight firms in accordance with approved programmes for 2018-19.

The CIAA has also recommended the MoALD to bring to book employees responsible for sanctioning the advance payment without fulfilling the set terms and conditions. “As per the work procedure, a firm is entitled to the first instalment only after completing construction the main building.

However, the project employees sanctioned the first instalment for some firms without meeting the requirement,” read the report. The anti-graft body said the project had designated districts for grant without conducting any feasibility study.

Some of the districts eligible for the grant already have cold storage established by private sector. Since the existing cold storage are not operating in their full capacity, the project should justify the need for additional facilities in such districts.

It has also urged the MoALD to amend existing Procedure on Construction of Cold Storage stating that it is not consistent with the Private Financing in Build and Operation of Infrastructures Act-2006. “All federal ministries should coordinate with the MoALD for sustainability of new cold storage as such facilities built by the private sector are not operating in their full capacity due to lack of raw materials,” it suggested.

Other recommendations include sanctioning grant on the basis of work progress, coordinating with local levels to construct cold storage and inviting quotation from at least three construction entrepreneurs.

The anti-graft body has stressed the need for coordination and collaboration among the federal, provincial and local governments for the construction of cold storage on the basis of production and consumption of agricultural products in concerned areas.