Billions at stake as projects delayed

Kathmandu, July 19

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority today said investment made in 1,848 development projects worth Rs 118 billion was at stake as the projects were not completed on time.

The CIAA stated in its report issued to list its work completed in fiscal 2018-19 that contractors had been using more than Rs 23 billion government money in the form of mobilisation of advance payment without using it to construct projects.

“Deadline for the completion of most of these projects was not extended, but even those projects whose deadline was extended were not completed on time,” the anti-graft body stated in its report.

It added that the failure to complete projects on time proved that the government’s money was not being properly utilised.

Transparency International Nepal President Khemraj Regmi told The Himalayan Times that contractors’ tendency to misuse the 20 per cent mobilisation fund was the main reason behind the non-completion of development projects on time.

“There is a nexus between contractors and politicians and contractors pay commission to politicians for misusing mobilisation fund. They receive 20 per cent mobilisation fund from one project and invest that amount in other projects,” Regmi alleged.

“Bureaucrats who should check this anomaly are also not doing their job efficiently because they are hand-in-glove with contractors,” he added.

Regmi said development projects would continue to witness unnecessary delays unless the government agencies ensured that contractors carried out construction work honestly and sincerely for all payments they received.

Government agencies also needed to ensure that payment was made to contractors only after verifying that they had completed work for previous payments, he added.

“Controlling corruption is primarily the government’s job and this government that has two-thirds majority in the House can easily control corruption if it wants to,” Regmi added.

CIAA Spokesperson Pradeep Kumar Koirala said the anti-graft body filed 357 cases of corruption at the Special Court in fiscal 2018-19 — a record in the 29-year history of the CIAA.

The money that the anti-graft body has sought to recoup in corruption cases filed in fiscal 2018-19 ranges from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2.16 billion.

Koirala said the CIAA had secured conviction in 88.5 per cent cases decided by the court in fiscal 2018-19 compared to 68 per cent conviction rate in the previous fiscal.

The CIAA arrested 200 people red-handed with bribe money, of who 161 were government employees, seven elected officers or nominated persons and 32 go-betweens.

The CIAA received a total of 24,048 complaints, of which it settled 15,611 (65 per cent). It launched detailed investigation into 921 complaints.

The anti-graft body has formed citizens vigilance organisations against corruption in 13 districts and plans to form such organisations in other districts as well.

CIAA Spokesperson Koirala said 26 per cent complaints were lodged against local levels in fiscal 2018-19. In the backdrop of largest number of complaints being filed against local levels, the CIAA will soon come up with its report on corruption at local levels, he added.