Panel to probe vehicle procurement anomalies

Kathmandu, August 12

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara today directed the chairs of the five parliamentary committees to form a five-member probe panel to investigate irregularities in vehicles procurement at the Parliament Secretariat.

The committee will have the chairs of five parliamentary committees as members.

This is probably the first time in the parliamentary history of the country that the speaker himself directed the chairpersons of the panels to investigate irregularities at the Parliament Secretariat.

According to Dilli Malla, the press adviser of the speaker, the probe panel will be led by Ram Narayan Bidari, chair of the Delegated Legislation and Government Assurance Committee.

The other four members of the committee are Bharat Kumar Shah, chair of the Public Account Committee, Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, chair of Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee, Krishna Prasad Dahal, chair of Finance Committee and Tara Devi Bhatta, chair of National Sustainable Development and Good Governance Committee. The committee will have 15 days to complete the investigation and prepare a report.

During the last month of fiscal 2018-19, the Parliament Secretariat had bought 11 Scorpio jeeps for chairs of the various committees of the House of Representatives and National Assembly. The vehicles were bought at more than Rs 60,000,000. The chairs started using the vehicles from the fourth week of July. However, all the 11 vehicles started giving trouble right from day one.

The PS told THT that the Ministry of Finance had provided Rs 60 lakh for each Scorpio and the PS paid around Rs 55 to 58 lakh for each vehicle.

“The very day I started using the jeep, it had some issues,” one of the chairs told THT on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, Speaker Mahara and Chair of NA Ganesh Prasad Timilsina had held a meeting with all 16 chairpersons of the parliamentary committees.

During the meeting, almost all the chairs, who were using the new vehicles, said their vehicles were not working properly. “So, the committee chairs requested Speaker Mahara and NA Chair Timilsina to investigate the matter,” one of the chairs told THT.

Another chair told THT that spare parts of the newly-bought vehicles did not appear to be genuine spare parts.

“If you travel in the vehicle, you feel that the spare parts used in the vehicle are of cheap quality,” the chair said, adding, “If you open a window, it makes irritating noise. There is terrible noise even when starting the vehicle and one has to avoid using brakes as they produce a grinding sound.” The vehicles were procured by the Vehicle Division of the PS. Earlier, the division had procured five Scorpios, which are working properly.

A vehicle obtained from Chair of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Shashi Shrestha has problems with the gear box whereas the vehicle obtained for Bidari has a problem with the chassis.

“Now, you cannot say whose fault it is without investigation.

Two things are possible — either the PS has colluded with the supplier or there are manufacturing defects in the vehicles,” another parliamentary committee chair told THT.