NC washes its hands of aircraft deal

Kathmandu, January 16

The Nepali Congress today made it clear that none of the decisions related to the purchase of two wide-body Airbus aircraft was taken during NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s last tenure as prime minister.

The clarification comes amid news reports of Deuba’s involvement in financial irregularities in the procurement of two aircraft for Nepal Airlines Corporation.

The party stated that NAC board of directors decided to seek approval for currency exchange to transfer payment to the aircraft seller just four days after Deuba assumed the prime minister’s office. At that time, the Cabinet had not been expanded and 19 ministries were under the prime minister.

“What prompted the NAC management committee to take the decision in head-spinning haste during the transition phase? We seek an additional investigation,” said NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma at a press conference here. “On that day, none of the decisions related to aircraft purchase was taken by the Cabinet, or by the prime minister, or at the ministerial level,” claimed Sharma.

The party stated that the process of acquiring the two wide-body Airbus aircraft for the NAC formally began during KP Sharma Oli’s first tenure as prime minister and gained momentum during the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Dahal was the country’s prime minister when the NAC invited bids for buying the jets and decided to send advance payment to the seller, according to the NC. Moreover, Dahal presided over the Cabinet meeting that decided to arrange funds for the NAC from Citizens’ Investment Trust and Employees’ Provident Fund with the government’s guarantee.

“We urge that an investigation be carried out into the scam without being influenced by political interest, influence or pressure, and truth be ascertained based on facts,” said Sharma.

Deuba has already dismissed reports about his involvement in the jet purchase scam.