Kathmandu, April 14
The Office of the Auditor General said the Election Commission distributed Rs 197.44 million to its employees during the local, parliamentary and provincial elections without setting criteria for making the expenses.
According to the annual (2074 BS) report of the OGA, the EC did not even obtain prior approval of the Ministry of Finance while distributing the amount. The EC is said to have distributed around Rs 47.89 million as election allowance, Rs 32.4 million as meeting allowance, Rs 23.1 million as food/lunch allowance, Rs 6 million as overtime allowance and Rs 210,000 as mobile recharge card expense to its office-bearers, employees and selected security personnel.
“The EC had to fix the criteria for providing allowance to its employees by formulating a procedure,” it said.
The EC also provided around Rs 46 million to its commissioners under the heading of election allowance and food/lunch expense, communication expense, meeting allowance and fuel without approval from the Government of Nepal. “The EC has mentioned around Rs 337.33 million as the amount released for the development, publication and broadcast of publicity materials, informational bags, T-shirts, diaries and ballpoint pens, and training and interactions for the purpose of voter education. Therefore, it is the time for the election body to review if the expenditure really paid off to increase the voter turnout and deceased invalid votes,” the report said.
The EC received technical support worth Rs 290.95 million from the UNDP, USAID and International IDEA. “But the election body did not prepare its financial statement and get it audited. Similarly, the EC did not send the details of 86 vehicles worth around Rs 186 million it obtained from the Government of India and 11 kinds of goods, including rubber stamps, gel pens, rulers and scissors valued at around Rs 134.6 million supported by China to the Financial General Comptroller Office, nor did it include the details in the central financial statement,” the report said.
The OAG also found the regional and district election offices on the wrong side of the law while making expenditure for elections. Election officer and other employees deputed to the office of election officer are entitled to only 50 per cent of the prescribed daily allowance if the number of days for deputation exceed 14 days. “Contrary to the existing rules related to daily allowance, as many as 218 persons, including chief election officers and other deputed employees of the election office mentioned around Rs 115.2 million by disbursing 100 per cent daily allowance even for the period exceeding 14 days,” it said.
The employees deputed to the election office and the office of election officer are not entitled to food/lunch expenses when they are provided with daily allowance. “However, the chief election officers and the offices of election officer distributed around Rs 7.6 million as food/lunch to the deputed employees even when they were paid daily allowance. The existing laws do not allow any employee to receive dual facilities and the disbursed amount should be recovered from the responsible officials,” the report warned.
Meanwhile, the OAG said the Supreme Court made purchase of Rs 10.42 million directly without calling tender for the same, thereby violating public procurement rules laid out in the Public Procurement Act and Public Procurement Regulations.
It said the Supreme Court, which was supposed to make purchase at the single time, purchased goods on multiple occasions by splitting the items that were to be purchased. It said that 13 vehicles worth Rs 40.49 million were provided to former chief justices without the sanction of the law.
A version of this article appears in print on April 15, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.