A commissioner at the CIAA appointment by the Nepali Congress government, Raj Narayan Pathak, resigned on February 16 after facing the prospect of impeachment for allegedly receiving bribes amounting to Rs 7.8 million for the case of an engineering college that also involved the former Chief Commissioner Lokman Singh Karki. The Nepal Comunist Party mulled impeachment after a video evidence became public this week. (TKP)
Pathak’s case has generated questions about impunity. Prime Minister Oli and senior political leaders had known about the corruption case since the last four months but did not act; there is a strong chance Pathak would not be punished despite breaching oath of office. (Prithvi Man Shrestha/TKP)
CIAA reports indicate nagging issues
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), released a series of reports in January 2018 indicating serious problems in good governance.
The 28th annual report of the CIAA revealed a continuation of past trends in corruption cases and complaints, especially the salience of complaints in education, local bodies, land, and health sectors. However, while the CIAA has been receiving less complaints, the number of prosecutions has been increasing. Given the nature of the prosecutions, the CIAA appears to be largely focussed on cases of bribe in public sectors directly providing services to the citizens—95 cases were filed last year. In addition to cases of bribes, 64 cases related to fake certificates, five cases related to tax administration, 25 cases related to theft of state resources, three other cases were filed.
Its study on procurements and contracts showed that among the seven ministries related to infrastructure development, none of the 1,848 contracts worth Rs 118 billion had been completed on time, and extensions had not been given to 1032 of these contracts and agreements. Major problems included impunity for breaches of contract, lack of preparation for procurement contracts, lack of initiatives to pursue legal processes to close contracts, and collusion between the private and the public sector in order to misuse funds.
Similarly, a study on the status of good governance and corruption in Nepal revealed that 24.5 percent are happy with the work of the CIAA. The institutions where ordinary service seekers experience most corruption are related to land revenues, land reforms, survey offices, and property transactions. About 23.1 percent people believe that political parties are responsible for corruption and 35.9 percent believe that action against political corruption is required to control corruption.
Corruption perception worsens
Nepal’s rank in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 fell by two places to 124 out of 180 countries, while its score remained the same from last year at 31. Nepal’s score has consistently slipped from 2015, when it was 27. In South Asia, only Afghanistan (16) and Bangladesh (26) fare worse.
Folk singer, under pressure, pulls down viral video on corruption
Pashupati Sharma, a popular folk singer, removed a video from Youtube after receiving threat from communist party affiliates. His new music video, “Lootna sake loot” (Loot if you can), became viral in Youtube and Twitter this week, generating backlash from supporters loyal to the government. The music video referred to impunity enjoyed by individuals involved in recent cases of alleged corruption in the Airbus wide-body aircraft deal, gold smuggling case, and NCell tax evasion scam. (Samuel Chhetri/TKP)
Opposition allege corruption
Even as Prime Minister K P Oli claimed that his government had laid the foundation for prosperity in the past year, the opposition Nepali Congress claimed that corruption has undermined good governance. Former Finance and Foreign Minister Ram Sharan Mahat claimed that corruption and red-tape have worsened the environment for foreign direct investment. (Anil Giri/TKP)
Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai alleged that the main opposition party, Nepali Congress, is colluding with the ruling Nepal Communist Party to hide its role in multiple cases of corruption. He said the two parties worked together and were engaged in corruption in the cases of Airbus deal, Budhi Gandaki hydro power project, and NCell’s capital gains tax evasion. (Rishi Ram Baral/THT)
Corruption charge delays Dharahara construction
The company, which has qualified for the construction of Dharahara tower, was indicted in a corruption charge by CIAA last month, posing a dilemma to the National Reconstruction Authority whether to award the contract to the company or not. Individuals associated with joint venture of ERMC (P) Ltd and East West Engineering Service (P) Ltd were implicated in the failure of the Sikta Irrigation Project’s main canal. (Prithvi Man Shrestha/TKP)
Khadka released on bail
The Special Court has released on bail former Managing Director of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Gopal Bahadur Khadka, who was charged by CIAA on multiple counts of embezzling NOC funds, including a land procurement deal that grossly inflated prices. On January 7, the CIAA charged Khadka with amassing disproportionate assets amounting to Rs 180.66 million. (THT)
PM Employment Programme
The government unveiled a PM Employment Program on Wednesday, drawing mixed reaction. While some consider it a good initiative, given that it is implemented properly, others are concerned that the programme, which seeks to ensure a minimum 100 days of wage-employment—would create a huge financial burden. (Chandan Kumar Mandal/TKP)
Opposition leader Ram Chandra Paudel claimed the programme was designed to benefit party workers of the Nepal Communist Party. Paudel said the government had introduced the scheme without proper preparation or allocation of financial resources. (Madan Wagle/THT)
A similar Karnali Employment Programme was deemed a failure,
according to Secretary Kedar Prasad Adhikary.
- Personal communication.