Shadow govt to intensify graft monitoring

Kathmandu, February 23

Nepali Congress President and Parliamentary Party Leader Sher Bahadur Deuba today directed shadow ministers to intensify monitoring of corruption in various ministries.

In the first meeting of the shadow Cabinet nine months after its constitution, the shadow ministers submitted reports of their activities over the period.

The Nepali Congress had formed 21 ministerial-level coordination committees in May last year. The committees would function as part of a shadow cabinet, while the coordinator of each committee would function as a shadow minister.

According to NC lawmaker and shadow Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Dila Sangroula, today’s meeting concluded that the audiotape scandal involving former minister of communications and information technology Gokul Baskota suggested that all the ministries and the government as a whole were entangled in major corruption.

“Not only the audiotape, media have also been reporting other scandals such as 4G licensing, fibre optics, various other government-to-government agreements, and policy corruption,” said Sangroula. “Therefore, we will now intensify our monitoring and bring out the truth as per party President Deuba’s direction.”

However, there are criticisms that the NC has not been able to play an effective role as opposition, and the shadow government has been formed just for the sake of being formed.

Sangroula said the shadow ministers acknowledged that their monitoring had not been that effective, but it did not mean they had done nothing. “We’ve done many things, but we have weaknesses,” she said.

Today’s meeting also discussed the NC’s strategy for the next meeting of the House of Representatives.

The NC had halted the HoR meeting on Thursday after the release of an audiotape in which Baskota was heard negotiating kickbacks with a Swiss equipment supplier in the government’s security printing press procurement deal.

The NC had the House demanding Baskota’s termination as minister, fair probe into the scandal, and PM’s clarification in the House.

Sangroula said today’s meeting decided to discuss the matter with other opposition parties in the House and reach a conclusion. The next meeting of the House is scheduled for Tuesday.