Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Source: THT

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Source: THT

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Monday told the Public Account Committee of the parliament that the government awarded the contract to print the Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) to India due to political reasons and diplomatic relations with India.

The PM said that the government could not revive the bidding process, which was cancelled earlier, as per PAC’s instruction as there was no time for the same due to the very limited time to meet the April 1 deadline given by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to implement the MRPs.

The PM said that the government decided to award the contract to India as India agreed to provide a package of technical assistance to Nepal. He defended the government’s decision saying that the government had to make decisions about MRPs out of compulsion as it had to rectify the mistakes made by the earlier governments. “The earlier governments did not take any initiatives when there was sufficient time, so this government was compelled to make hasty decisions to meet the ICAO’s deadline,” he said.

The PAC had summoned the PM and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala for clarification about the government’s act to defy or bypass the instructions of the PAC. Almost all CA members strongly criticised the PM and Foreign Minister for awarding the contract by violating law and due process and going against the nation’s interest. They accused the government of being indifferent and reluctant to work for the nation’s welfare and indulging in abuse of authority while making decisions on the issue of printing the MRPs.