PAC seeks PPMO clarification on wide-body procurement, summons Min Adhikari

KATHMANDU: The Public Accounts Committee of the Federal Parliament on Wednesday asked the Public Procurement Monitoring Office to look into procurement of two wide-body aircraft by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).

The committee has also decided to call Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari in the next meeting for questioning on wide-body purchase.

Earlier, lawmakers had suspected a big ‘commission game’ in NAC’s wide-body aircraft purchase deal. Lawmakers claimed that the concerned government authorities and NAC officials could have been involved in financial irregularities while purchasing the wide-body planes and sought a thorough investigation into the matter.

Today, the PAC called PPMO Secretary Madhu Prasad Regmi and Director Ram Chandra Sharma to discuss the issue. During the meeting, Regmi told lawmakers that his office was unaware of the issue. Then some members suggested that the PPMO be given a certain time to look into the issue. In response, Regmi expressed his readiness to undertake the assignment given by the committee.

NAC had acquired its two Airbus A330-200 series aircraft on June 28 and July 26. The national flag carrier had purchased the aircraft from US-based AAR Corporation worth Rs 24 billion. NAC had taken a loan of Rs 12 billion each from Citizen Investment Trust and Employees Provident Fund at 10.5 per cent interest rate to buy the planes.

During the meeting, Nepali Congress lawmaker and Chairman of PAC Bharat Kumar Shah claimed that some amount of the money could have been embezzled during the purchase of the two wide-body aircraft. The meeting has continued raising questions against government authorities including NAC and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).