KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 3
The probe panel led by Ram Narayan Bidari, chair of Delegated Legislation and Government Assurance Committee, today sent its report to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on 11-vechicles procurement at the Parliament Secretariat stating that there were technical problems, but they didn’t find any financial irregularity during procurement.
At the end of the last fiscal, the Parliament Secretariat had bought 11 Scorpio vehicles for the chairs of the panels of HoR and NA. The cost of the procurement was more than Rs 60 million. The chairs of the panels started using the vehicles from the fourth week of July. From the first day, there were technical problems in the vehicles.
Talking to mediapersons, Bidari said the panel had called engineers and experts from the Public Procurement Monitoring Office. “There were different problems in each vehicle, but the procurement process didn’t show any irregularities,” he said, adding that of all the vehicles, only three vehicles had serious problems. However, Bidari added that he had bought two vehicles in his life at discount, but he didn’t find any such discounts while buying more than a dozen vehicles.
“I don’t understand why there was no discount,” he added.
After complaints from the chairs, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on August 12 had formed a five-member probe panel, chairs of five committees of the House of Representatives and National Assembly committees jointly, to investigate procurement irregularities in 11 vehicles.
Four other members of the committee were Bharat Kumar Shah, chair of the Public Account Committee, and 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.
However, today, Shah was not present during the report handover programme.
Bidari told mediapersons that they had called all the chairpersons of the committees who had been using the new vehicles, but three chairpersons were not present at the meeting for their views. The committee also called the company chair and other members during the investigation.
After receiving the report, Speaker Mahara told mediapersons that he would go through the report and come to a conclusion after some days. “First, I need to read to make final decision,” he added.
Probe committee head Bidari said the panel had recommended in the report that those vehicles, which had technical problems, should be maintained by the company and sent back within seven days. He added, “If the company hesitate to tackle the technical problems, the Parliament Secretariat should move ahead with legal action.”
The Ministry of Finance had provided Rs 60 lakh each for Scorpio vehicles and the PS has bought one vehicle for around Rs 55 lakh to Rs 58 lakh.
“If you travel in the vehicle, you feel like the parts of the vehicles are different.
They are assembled from different companies. If you open a window, it makes a big noise. If you start it, the engine makes a big noise and if you press the brake, you will be scared,” Bidari explained.
The vehicles were procured by the Vehicle Division of the PS. The division had previously procured five Scorpio vehicles, which are working properly. But the recently procured vehicles have technical problems. A vehicle which was obtained by Chair of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Shashi Shrestha has problem with the gear box, whereas the vehicle which was obtained by Bidari has problem with the chassis.
According to the PS, there are 47 vehicles in the Parliament. Of them, 42 are Scorpio jeeps.
A version of this article appears in print on September 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.