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Zero Tolerance Of Corruption

Issue February 2020

Zero Tolerance Of Corruption

 Siddhi B. Ranjitkar


First of all, the Oli administration had crafted many bills and presented them in the parliament and got them passed in the parliament, and then the president signed them off into laws. However, the most notorious law called Public Procurement Act that had been instrumental to make the development projects delayed for many years and made them cost overrun and time overrun had remained intact. It indicated that the delay in completing the development projects did not matter.


The notorious Public Procurement Act was crafted and passed in the past mainly for the benefits of the decision makers and the contractors at the cost of the beneficiaries and certainly at the cost of the entire population in general and taxpayers in particular. One of the good examples of how the development projects had been the victims of the Public Procurement Act was the Melamchi Drinking Water Project the Asian Development Bank had financed that had been never completed but the money went on spending on the project.


Public Procurement Act has no provision for making the decision makers and project managers accountable to completing the development projects in time, and punishing even the contractors that had defaulted on not doing the work as stated in the contracts. Rather it has the provision for extending the time and increasing the cost and even compensating the contractors for the rise in the prices of the construction materials but no provision for reducing the contract amount when the prices of the construction materials went down.


What the Oli administration rather the cadres of the political party in power did was forced the singer that had sang a song that practically revealed boldly the corruption prevailing in the administration to remove it from the “youtube” website. Then, the Oli administration arrested another one for having improper words using the cyber crime act. Two more anti-corruption activists had been implicated in one crime or another and one of them was even physically tortured. Corruption did not matter but speaking against corruption really did matter.


Don’t help fraudulent companies to flourish, Finance Minister Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada told the auditors while speaking at an interaction on “Professional integrity for combating corruption and fraud” Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN) held in Kathmandu on Sunday, December 22, 2019. Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada said that the auditors needed to be more sensitive to the IT-based financial frauds and corruption activities while performing the audit of companies and organizations as such activities had been increasing recently. "There are fraudulent companies that are developed through fake documents and have fake financial reports and balance sheets. Auditors must not help such companies to flourish," Dr. Khatiwada said. He said that some auditors are preparing sham balance sheets and financial reports of such firms. "Auditors must not play role in approving the fraudulent activities of such institutions," said Dr. Khatiwada, the news on


Dr. Khatiwada urged the auditors to practice the latest financial technology and instruments to support combating economic crimes. He also said that every professional ranging from chartered accountants to lawyers must try to uphold the professional integrity and follow the professional code of conduct. "The government is spearheaded to maintain good governance and transparency with zero-tolerance of corruption. We are enacting many laws for the same," said the Finance Minister, the news stated.


Chief Commissioner of Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Nabin Kumar Ghimire stated that no auditor should work with intent to cover up financial crime and misappropriation. Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma Dangal said that every professional needed to perform following the professional values and norms for fighting against corruption. Tax evasion, financial misappropriation and decentralization of corruption have been the major challenges of today. "The global trend show that the private sector is focused on cheating and the public sector is trying to cover up corruption," he said. He urged the concerned agencies and professionals such as auditors to be cautious as the issue of money laundering was being raised at the international level, the news stated.


Chairman of ICAN Krishna Prasad Acharya said that the public had felt the erosion of integrity in different professions and businesses, and also said, "We want to promote good practice and help the government in curbing corruption." Spokesperson for CIAA Pradip Koirala said that investigating agencies had less confidence in the fairness and the truth of the audit reports of companies. He expressed concerns over the increasing trend in corruption at the local bodies, the news stated.


The most interesting thing was why the finance minister or the government could not take actions against the fraudulent companies and the auditors if they knew that they were fake companies, and the auditors had prepared the false audit reports on them. If CIAA officials had no confidence in the fairness and the truth of the audit reports on the companies then why CIAA did not initiate investigation into the work of the auditors and the companies, too. The charges the finance minister and the CIAA officials had made against the companies probably were glossed over.


While speaking at the weekly Gorkhapatra Sambad on Sunday, December 22, 2019, Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal said that the government would soon reclaim all the public and government lands the land-mafia had encroached on; the first priority was to reclaim the public land transferred to individuals’ names abusing the position and power. Talking about the problems of squatters, she said that the government would address their problems, as it was the responsibility of the government to provide certain land for their settlement. “Here in Nepal, fake land squatters are occupying the land in the name of landless. So, the government will remove them from the government land,” she said, the news on stated.


Probably, the minister would remove the real landless folks from the government land stating they were fake, to accommodate the unscrupulous party cadres and even leaders. Then, she correctly said that the folks had abused the position and power to transfer the public land into the individuals’ names. Then, the question was why she could not take actions against them including the general secretary of Nepal Communist Party Vishnu Poudel, and the then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who allegedly involved in transferring the state-owned land at the Lalita-nivas, Baluwatar to the individuals’ names; even the son of Vishnu Poudel managed to register some land in his name at the Lalita-nivas, all these matters so widely discussed in the media and in the political circle.


At the time when the Nepalese media had been widely criticizing the government’s action on renewing the Gokarna forest resort lease agreement with the Yeti Holdings, and the opposition lawmakers asking why the government renewed the lease agreement when the agreement would expire only after five years within which probably a new government would be in place, Deputy Prime Minister also Chairperson of Nepal Trust Ishwor Pokharel explained to the lawmakers at the National Assembly that the government decided to renew the agreement between Nepal Trust and the Yeti Holdings for 50 years, as the company started constructing new structures with the lease agreement remaining only for five years; DPM Pokharel said that the resort company presented a proposal to extend the lease term for additional 30 years, the news on ob December 26, 2019 stated.


At a press conference held in Kathmandu on December 27, 2019, Executive Secretary of Nepal Trust Gajendra Thakur said that the lease agreement of Gokarna Forest Resort would come into effect as the government decided on December 9 to extend the lease agreement for the next 25 years with the provision for increasing the rent in every five years based on the real market value; the state would have the benefit of Rs 4.32 billion directly and indirectly after the renewal of the lease agreement; the agreement was renewed after LM Subhir Brothers Nepal Pvt Ltd started off constructing new physical infrastructures to operate other services on the Gokarna Forest Resort premises, the news on stated on December 27, 2019.


The press statement released on Friday, December 27, 2019 stated that Bibeksheel Nepali Dal expressed concern over the controversies surfaced on leasing the land of Nepal Trust at Durbarmarg to Thamserku Developers and the extension of the lease period of Gokarna Forest Resort for another 25 years. The party claimed that the extension of the lease period of the land of about 2,900 ropanis to Gokarna Forest resort by 25 years, 5 years and 8 months before the expiry of the current contract of the lease has indicated serious irregularities. The party also claimed that Nepal Trust would incur a loss of Rs 5.57 billion following the new contract.


The statement released by Vice-Chairperson of Bibeksheel Nepali Dal: Ajita Rai stated that corruption at policy level could be sensed as Nepal Trust Act 2064 BS was amended for easing the procedures to award the land at prime locations without issuing public bidding. “These acts indicate the level of prevailing policy corruption in Nepal and a big irony to the Prime Minister’s commitment to zero tolerance against corruption,” she wrote.


Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Everest Sumitters’ Association (ESA) and Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATA) issuing almost the similar statements on the government’s controversial decision on extending the lease of Gokarna Forest Resort to the company owned by Yeti Holdings, accused the media of defaming Yeti Groups, which was claimed to be the largest taxpayer company, and they even warned of the news reports could make the Visit Nepal Year 2020 a failure, and they also accused the media of practicing yellow journalism without any credible evidences.


Head of NMA: Santa Bir Lama, President of NATA: CN Pandey, and President of ESA: Maya Sherpa had been elected to their respective positions with the votes of the NCP royalists. TAAN: the largest tourism association, however, refrained from issuing a statement on Yeti Holdings. Head of TAAN: Khum Bahadur Subedi got elected to the position defeating the NCP panel candidate recently.


Media had been questioning why the government extended the lease agreement on the Gokarna Forest Resort for another 25 years before the current lease expired after more than five years. It had provoked the serious controversy as the government, acting under the Prime Minister Oli’s influence, extended the lease without any competitive bidding.


Prime Minister Oli had been accused of replacing Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa with Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel as the chairman of the Nepal Trust Board after Home Minister Thapa refused to lease out the land at the Durbarmarg to Thamserku Trekking Company: one of the companies under Yeti Holdings.


Instead of demanding a fair probe into the controversial matter, tourism associations NCP loyalists led, questioned the independent media coverage. Observers believed that the statements the tourism associations made against the independent media were just payback for political favors. “It seems the whole thing was ill-intentioned. They are now struggling to counter critical voices including media with misleading statements,” said Khem Raj Regmi, president of Transparency Nepal, adding, “Media are doing a great job. No need to blame media or civil society organizations.”


On December 27, 2019, speaking at the completion ceremony of the training on the “reporters code of conduct” the Federation of Journalist, Gandaki Pradesh held, Chief of Gandaki Pradesh: Amik Sherchan said that the corruption was the greatest enemy of the country, the news published on the tenth page of “gorkhapatra” on December 28, 2019 stated.


However, Prime Minister Oli and his deputy Ishwor Pokharel unlike the Gandaki Pradesh chief must have thought that the corruption was the best guest to have, and live such a guest nicely for the time being because the nice guest could make the relatives, friends, and political cadres tremendously reach, and the guest could bring the fortune for the party to have sufficient resources for the elections if the Nepalese media were to believe in the renewable of the lease on the Gokarna Forest Resort.


The Oli administration had crafted and registered at the parliament an amendment to the Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Act making the provision for the time limit of five years for investigating any corruption cases from the date the corruption has been known; and the Oli administration had rescinded the current provision made for the public office holders requiring to disclose their assets within 60 days; the news published on the second page of “gorkhapatra” on January 24, 2020 stated.


Crafting and registering the amendment Bill on CIAA, and discarding the existing provision made for the disclosure of the assets of the public figures, the Oli administration had taken off the mask of the prime minister and revealed the real face of Prime Minister Oli, who had been repeatedly saying that he had the zero-tolerance of corruption.


With the new provision made on the CIAA Act and discarding the provision for disclosing the assets of the public office holders, the administration had really opened up the floodgate for causing corruption probably in an unprecedented scale in the state businesses in the coming years. That might be the reason why the Oli administration had forced the singer named Pashupati Sharma to remove from “youtube” his so popular song that stated, “Loot Kancha (a man) loot you won’t find such privilege in other countries.”


“We are not liars; we never lied; we will take the development wherever it is necessary,” said Gokul Prasad Banskota: Minister for Communication and Information Technology holding the portfolio of Urban Development Ministry, too while speaking at the cultural function the Tamang Community had held at the ward No.1 of the Panchakhal Municipality on the occasion of Sonam Losar, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on February 8, 2020 stated.


So far nobody had came out with the statement that Minister Gokul Banskota and his Prime Minister KP Oli were the liars if somebody did so s/he would have been behind bars because the government had already enacted sufficient laws to put such folks dared to say something against the ministers behind bars. Now, anybody could guess that Minister Gokul Banskota himself was exposing him to the public because he could no more keep himself unexposed. 


Speaking at the event held to mark the Twenty-ninth Anniversary of Commission on Investigation Into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in Kathmandu on February 11, 2020, Prime Minister KP Oli said that the constitutional bodies and agencies would work independently on the democratic management; corruption should not be partisan but impartial; and he had no intention to influence CIAA; corruption was the great disease to the clean society and the development aspiration; and he said, “I am committed to not involving in corruption, and will not allow others to commit corruption,” the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on February 12, 2020 stated.


The irony is that the Oli administration had muzzled the voices of the anti-corruption activist such as Singer Pashupati Sharma, who had sang a song against corruption, and uploaded the song on the “youtube” forcing the singer to remove his song from the “youtube”. The comedic prime minister was happy that his administration forced Sharma to remove the song from the social media even if he was elected to such a high office for protecting the people’s rights to freedom of expression, and to punish anybody violating somebody’s rights to the freedom of expression. That was not all; the police of the Oli administration implicated another anti-corruption activist Lavi Lamichhane in the murder case. This was probably only the tip of iceberg of the folks silenced by the Oli administration. Then, the question was how the common folks would believe the prime minister, who was more interested in sarcastic speeches than in the truth.


On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, Prime Minister Oli as the Chief of National Democracy Anniversary Celebration Main Committee, presided over the meeting of the main committee on celebrating the seventieth democracy anniversary, and set up several sub-committees to mark the day with great enthusiasm; Prime Minister Oli instructed the administration to create an environment conducive to the common folks celebrate the Democracy Day, Martyrs’ Day and Republic Day as their own, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on February 12, 2020 stated.


Again the irony is that the prime minister, his deputy and his tourism minister had been the fans of the feudal lords such as Prithvi Narayan Shah, Kalu Pandey, and Bhimsen Thapa, who had ran the country mercilessly for their own interest and luxurious lives keeping the entire populace in the dare poverty and diseases until the country was freed from the monarchy in 2008. Prime Minister Oli and His deputy Ishwor Pokharel inaugurated the statues of Prithvi Narayan Shah and his general Kalu Pandey in Kirtipur where the soldiers of Prithvi Narayan Shah cut off the noses of about two thousands innocent folks after Prithvi defeated them, and captured the city-state. Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai recently went to Gorkha and inaugurated the statue of Bhimsen Thapa, who had lost a large territory to the British East India Company because of his mismanagement of the army and disruption in the supplies to the army at the front during the war with the British Company army. Sufferings of the ancestors of the current Kirtipurians at the hands of Prithvi Narayan did not matter Oli and his colleagues.


The Oli administration had attempted on bringing the National Human rights Commission under the Attorney General, crafted the Media Council Bill to curb the freedom of expression even going against the provision made for the freedom of expression in the Constitution of 2015, and also crafted the Guthi bill to grab the private, public and state Guthi land with the intention to distribute the land to the cadres of the communist party; a large amount of the state money had been allocated to different activities such as the minimum employment scheme, agricultural subsidies, and loan interest subsidies and so on, only to distribute the money to the cadres causing the incredible wastage of the state resources.


Speaking at the event held to mark the Twenty-ninth Anniversary of Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in Kathmandu on February 11, 2020, President Bidhyadevi Bhandari said that the folks involved in corruption, and let others involved in corruption were the enemies of the nation; and she emphasized that uprooting the corruption was necessary for the cultured society, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on February 12, 2020 stated.


Legal experts said that the president missed to state that CIAA had abused the authority skipping the cases of the corruption charges against former Supreme Court Justice Kumar Regmi, and Nabin Poudel (son of Vishnu Poudel: General Secretary of the ruling Nepal Communist Party) involved in transferring the State-owned land at Lalita-nivas to their names because they agreed to return the land so fraudulently registered in their names, and CIAA also missed to indict former Prime Ministers such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and Dr Baburam Bhattarai stating CIAA was beyond the jurisdiction of taking up the policy decisions made on easing the transfer of the state-owned land at Lalita-nivas, Baluwatar, Kathmandu to the private companies, and individuals.


Legal experts said that how CIAA could free the criminals if the criminals were to return the illegally grabbed property; they also asked whether CIAA would withdraw so many corruption cases against the state officials filed in the Special Court if those guys were to return the amount they took illegally. Thus, CIAA supposed to prevent the abuse of authority had been involved in the abuse of authority the legal experts said. The prime ministers who had made the policy decisions on transferring the state land to the individuals and organizations would never escaped from the justice; time would come when they would be brought to justice, legal experts said.


Now, corrupt lawmakers had disrupted the proceedings of the House of Representatives protesting against CIAA filing the case of the corruption charges against former Deputy Prime Minister Vijaya Kumar Gacchedar, who had been implicated in illegally transferring the state land at Lalita-nivas to the private companies, and individuals. These shady lawmakers obviously did not know that the corruption case filed against Gacchedar was a legal matter and not the political one. However, they even did not know that CIAA not filing cases against former prime ministers, and the son of Vishnu Poudel, and former Supreme Court Justice Kumar Regmi must be the political ones and the abuse of authority. If these lawmakers were honorable as they addressed each other then they would have filed an impeachment proposal against the CIAA members and the CIAA chief not filing the cases against the prime ministers and other two guys Poudel and Regmi. However, such genuine cases did not get into the brains of the crooked lawmakers, who wanted to rescue the fraudulent colleague abusing their status and even authority.


For the lawmakers, ministers including current and former prime ministers, and of course, for the high officials of the state bureaucracy, corruption did not matter but speaking against corruption mattered. So, the civil society groups needed to rise up against the establishments to end the corruption endemic in the state administration, political leaders, and their cadres, who applauded the leaders speaking for defending the allegedly corrupt Former Deputy Prime Minister Vijaya Gacchedar.


Prime Minister Oli had been repeatedly saying that he had zero tolerance of corruption, and he even had said that during the last two years of his administration the corruption had been drastically reduced. However, if anybody were to read the news titled “Samiti Lai-nai Terdaina Samsya Grasta Sahakari” published on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on February 17, 2020 then s/he would find that how the political cadres had been obstacles to bringing the corrupt folks to justice, who had misappropriated the savings of the common folks made in at least twelve financial cooperatives the Problematic Cooperative Management Committee was supposed to resolve because none of the corrupt folks did respond the Committee taking the benefits of the political shelter they had received. Now, the question to the prime minister, “Who had given the political protection to the corrupt folks and why the Committee under the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation could not do anything even after two years?”


Former Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota had successfully exposed the slogan of Prime Minister Oli that he would not involve in corruption and would not others allow involving in corruption. Prime Minister Oli might save his own face and his commission agent Gokul Prasad Baskota saying Baskota had not taken the money he had only made a deal; it was not a crime; the precedent had been once Krishna Bahadur Mahara who was recently acquitted from the rape case from the court had asked the Chinese NPR 500 million for paying the lawmakers for electing the then Maoist leader Prachanda to the office of prime minister. However, Baskota had profitably exposed Prime Minister Oli as a leader of the commission agents who had been feeding billions of rupees to Oli for staying in power.


The video Ajay Babu Shivakoti had posted on “youtube” on February 20, 2020 thus making the public of the deal Baskota was making with the commission agent Bijay Prakash Misra, who had obviously tapped the video to use it as a weapon if the deal was not honored. Clearly, Baskota was so greedy why he would take NPR 500 million out of the commission of NPR 700 million for purchasing the security press for the State as mentioned in the videos posted on “youtube when other agent was offering him NPR 4 billion”. So, Misra must have passed on the video to Shivakoti, who simply uploaded on “Youtube” for the public listening.


The irony is that the House Public Account Committee that had once used Bijay Prakash Misra as an expert on the security printing press had passed the resolution demanding to arrest Bijay Prakash Misra for breaching the Cyber Crime Law because his video was posted on “youtube” exposing the deal on the commission on purchasing the security printing press he was making with Baskota. Unfortunately for the prime minister, Baskota had clearly stated that the commission was not for him alone but for “us” because he had asked how much “we” were to receive.


Obviously, some of the lawmakers who might be taking the position of the careless Gokul Baskota in the future, and who might need to have the similar deals, and who might be caught in the same type of the videos of the folks working for the commission agents had been serious enough to stop such dealmakers from exposing them to the public. So, if they could use the Cyber Crime Act against such guys who secretly tapped the commission deals then the chances of exposing the unsuccessful deals to the public would be at minimum if not zero.


So, it was no wonder that some lawmakers belonging to the Nepal Communist Party despite facing the opposition from the Nepali Congress had been in a hurry to pass the media council bill that Baskota had crafted and submitted at the National Assembly for muzzling the reporters, the media and even the publishing houses. And Prime Minister Oli wanted to go a bit further bringing the National Human Rights Commission under the Attorney General. His cabinet also had reportedly passed the proposals for Ministers including the prime minister and other high ranking elected and appointed state officials not needing to require disclosing their personal assets after taking office; and also for not taking the corruption cases the ministers and other high ranking officials indulged in after five years from the date of committing such crimes. Thus, Prime Minister Oli was making fun at his slogan of “zero-tolerance of corruption.”


Evidently, Prime Minister Oli had successfully used Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for saving the former Prime Ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from the case of involving in making the decision on illegally transferring the State-owned Lalita-nivas land to the private companies and individuals, and the General Secretary of NCP Vishnu Poudel for allegedly purchasing a piece of State-owned land at the Lalita-nivas in the name of his under-age son at that time, and the justice of the Supreme Court after they agreed to return the land they had so unlawfully received or purchased. 


Now, Prime Minister Oli needed to save his beloved former Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota, who had been staying in the house of Prime Minister Oli at Balkot in Bhaktapur after Oli moved to the official prime ministerial residence at Baluwatar in Kathmandu. Baskota unmistakably had been the most trusted man within the circle of the prime minister’s trusted persons. That was why Prime Minister Oli could always boast that he would never tolerate corruption because the prime minister was so sure that Baskota would never betray the prime minister even though the current exposure had shown that Oli might have amassed the tremendous amount of money using Baskota as the communication minister to take commission in the cases of 4G, NTC and other communication businesses, the folks watching the activities of these ministers stated in various video posted on “youtube”.


For more information on the deal Baskota had made on taking the commission on purchasing the security printing press for Nepal visit “Youtube” and watch the so many videos including that of daring Lavi Lamichhane of News24.


How the then communist prime minister and the congress home minister made a decision on transferring about 173 ropani of the land belonging to the Nepal Trust to the tenants or their heirs was made clear in the news published on the front page of the State-run newspaper “gorkhapatra” on February 26, 2020 stated. The news stated that the then Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai as the patron of Nepal Trust, and the then Home Minister Vijaya Kumar Gacchedar as the chairman of Nepal Trust Management Board had made a decision on transferring the ownership of about 173 ropani land belonging to the Nepal Trust to the names of tenants or their heirs even though the tenants could not claim the tenancy rights to the land belonging to the state following the Clause 25 (5) of the Land Act of 2021 (1964) with the amendment made in 2075 (2018).


The opposition leader in the parliament: Sher Bahadur Deuba taking time from the Speaker spoke in the parliament on March 1, 2020 about the attempt of Prime Minister KP Oli on covering up the audiotape that had vividly implicated former Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota in negotiating the deal on taking commission on purchasing the Security Printing Press for the State; and Deuba also questioned that how many ministers were involved in the commission business, as Baskota had clearly stated how much “we” would receive in the audiotape.


A few days ago, Prime Minister Oli publicly doubted the authenticity of the audiotape, and next day, Baskota filed a defamation case against Vijaya Prakash Misra, who had released the audiotape of the conversation between Baskota and him while making a deal on the commission on purchasing the Security Printing Press. Misra had said in an interview with a TV anchor that the conversation had been incidentally taped as he forgot to turn off the switch he was taping something while waiting for the Baskota to meet.


A lawyer in a TV interview stated that Prime Minister Oli had made such a public statement on doubting the authenticity of the audiotape implicating Baskota in negotiating for the commission on purchasing the Security Printing Press, as the prime minister himself was involved in taking the commission; so he did not take actions against Baskota and he went for covering up the audiotape to influence the investigation that Commission on Investigation into Abuse of Authority was taking up. (Audio-visual tapes of all these public discussions on the audiotape that had implicated Baskota in the commission business were posted on “youtube” for the public consumption.)


updated on March 1, 2020 

updated on February 26, 2020

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