All the King’s Men
The Financial and Administrative Review Sub-committee of the National Nature Conservation Trust set up to look into the trust’s past fiscal and administrative records has found incidents of massive corruption and financial irregularities in the seven year period between fiscal year 2057-58 BS and 2063-64 BS. The sub-committee report shows ‘out of balance’ amount of Rs 40.19 million, unrecovered credit of Rs 7.7 million (with a further Rs 2.6 million in interest); and clarification has been sought on further Rs 5.7 million. The biggest irregularities have resulted from the Trust’s inability to collect Rs 20.5 million in royalties from the six hotels operating inside the Chitwan National Park.
The report also mentions appropriation of Trust properties like multi-utility vehicles and laptops worth nearly Rs 7 million by ‘Nirmal Niwas’. Additionally, the incumbent royal couple is alleged to have spent Trust funds on their 1989 Britain trip. Another Rs 1.35 million was spent on ‘liquors’. Such reckless spending suggests the Trust had been run as a royal fiefdom. The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 clearly stipulates that no one is above the law, not even the King and Queen. Now that the irregularities have been clearly pointed out, the guilty should be brought to book. Another important step would be to streamline the NNCT bureaucracy, with emphasis on establishing mutually beneficial relationship with grassroots communities.