Nepal Today

Monday, August 5, 2013


Kathmandu, 6 Aug.: NC President Sushil Koirala is holding discussions
with Congress I Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Tuesday-the
third day of his India visit at Indian government invitation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting with Koirala Monday
suggested elections should be held by the 19 November deadline and
NC should lead a democratic alliance.
KOirala is in India after visits of Maoist Chairman Prachanda, NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML senior leader and former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal..:
Nepal has been an exception lately: leaders of other South Asian
countries  don’t visit the Indian capital to discuss internal political issues.
Kathmandu, 6 Aug.:: The government has stepped up security for the chief, commissioner and investigation officers of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Ananta Raj Paudel writes in The Himalayan Times..

“Both senior and junior CIAA officials face security threats. The government has increased security as per our demand,” Shreedhar Sapkota, CIAA spokesman, told this daily today. He noted that CIAA has put more than 100 officials under the purview of its investigation on the suspicion of accumulating assets by abusing authority.

According to a source at the Nepal Police Headquarters, the government has deployed 65 more police personnel for the CIAA and its officials, meaning a total of 88 police personnel under DIG are providing security to the CIAA, its chief and other officials.

“It is not uncommon for CIAA officials, especially investigating officers, to receive threats,” Sapkota added.

Sapkota did not respond when asked if Chief Commissioner Lokman Singh Karki and Commissioner Keshav Prasad Baral have also been receiving threats. Interestingly, the CIAA chief has pasted a notice outside his office chamber prohibiting even investigating officers from meeting him when they feel the need to do so. He has ordered them to arrange such meetings by coordinating with his personal assistant.

“Corrupt elements can do anything against anyone because we have adopted a zero-tolerance policy against them. Because of this move, CIAA staff need stepped-up security,” another CIAA staffer claimed. Everyone has to face metal dictator checking while passing through the main entrance. “Even Chief District Officers, who have been working as regional anti-graft officials, are subjected to security checks at the CIAA headquarters,” a CIAA source said. CIAA staffers say security arrangements are tighter at the CIAA than at the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers.

A DIG at the Police Headquarters says the CIAA does not need this kind of security. “We have deployed 65 more personnel for the CIAA and its officials,” he said. “CIAA’s security sensitivity has surprised us,” he added.
Kathmandu, 6 Aug.: The total arrears of various state bodies stood at Rs 35.07 billion in the fiscal year 2011-12—or 12 per cent of the government’s total actual recurrent and capital expenditure in the year—reflecting failure on the part of government agencies to maintain fiscal discipline, the latest report of the Office of the Auditor General shows.

With the addition of this amount, the cumulative arrears of government agencies so far have reached a staggering Rs 204.26 billion, which is almost 40 per cent of the annual budget of Rs 517.24 billion allocated for this fiscal year.

Arrears are generally accumulated if expenses are made unlawfully or without submitting proper documents. They may also build up if the government has failed to receive compensation from foreign aid agencies for expenses made in the past or if advance payments are made to staff and others, like contractors.

Of the total arrears recorded in 2011-12, Rs 27.97 billion, or almost 80 per cent, was accumulated by government offices and the rest by district development committees and various government committees and organisations.

The government’s account book shows billions of rupees in arrears every year despite clear provisions in the Financial Procedures Act that calls for settlement of such transactions within 35 days of getting official reminder.

“Such carelessness indicates lack of fiscal discipline on the part of various government bodies,” government’s chief secretary Lila Mani Poudel said at an event organised to launch the 50th report of the Office of the Auditor General on Monday. Of the total arrears accumulated in 2011-12, Rs 14.51 billion, or 41 per cent of the total arrears, was generated through advance payment made to those other than government employees. This indicates huge chunk of advance payments went to contractors who were selected to implement various government projects.

“This situation needs to be arrested as almost half of arrears are related to advance payment,” said secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Krishna Hari Banskota, requesting secretaries of all the ministries to form a separate team and entrust it with the task of settling arrears.

Although many government officials say making advance payment to contractors is not illegal because of presence of legal provision to do so, others claim such a practice is promoting corruption in the country.

“Arrears related to advance payment is one of the major sources of corruption, as many contractors collect payment in advance and later subcontract the work to other parties,” chief secretary Poudel said. “This also results in delay in completion of many projects.”

‘Submit arrears settlement plans by August 23’

Finance Minister Shanker Koirala on Monday asked secretaries of different ministries to submit a detailed work plan on settlement of outstanding arrears within August 23.

“This work plan should chart out steps to settle 100 per cent of arrears within mid-June 2014,” the minister told a meeting organised to launch the 50th report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

“Since the amount recorded as arrears is taxpayers’ money, it is our responsibility to keep its account,” said minister Koirala, who is also the coordinator of a committee formed to implement recommendations laid in the latest OAG report.

Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Krishna Hari Banskota said the work plan should include measures that can be taken to settle 20 per cent of arrears within mid-December, 50 per cent of arrears within mid-March 2014 and the rest within mid-June 2014.


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