Kathmandu, Nepal, June, 22, 2020: Responding to the widespread outcry over the controversial procurement process to procure the medical kits and machines to contain the spreading threat of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) under the federal parliament has begun formal investigation.
The parliamentary committee, which is responsible for the investigation of the alleged irregularities, summoned secretaries from the office of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and the Director General (DG) of the Department of Health Services (DoHS) to inquire about the potential corruption allegations while procuring medical kits and machinery to contain the spreading threat of COVID-19.
As lawmakers representing to the PAC raised series of questions from the beginning point of the procurement process, none of them answered satisfactorily but recommended to investigate to those authorities, who had initiated the procurement process.
Secretary to the PMO Narayan Prasad Bidari even failed to answer about the actual allocation of funds to the state agencies in the federal level, provincial level and the local levels to control and prevention of coronavirus infection.
Likewise, secretary to the MoHP Laxman Aryal and DG of the DoHS Dipendra Man Singh told the PAC that they were unable to respond to queries stating that they did not have much information about the procurement process as they had just taken over the responsibility of their offices.
As of the recommendation of the authorities, the PAC is going to summon former health secretary Yadav Koirala and former DoHS DG Mahendra Shrestha to make clarifications over the selection process of the Omni Business Corporative International (OBCI), which is alleged of supplying wrong test kits and machinery in highly inflated prices.
It is said that Minister for Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal will also be summoned rightly after the Yadav and Shrestha. Dhakal’s chief adviser Dr Khem Karki is also alleged for the involvement to contract the OBCI.
Being the head of the High-Level Coordination Committee to Control Covid-19, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Ishwar Pokharel would drag into the investigation. Though the medical equipment and kits procured by the Nepal Army in the government to government level from China has also alleged to be higher compared to the market price, the PAC, however, has not made any decision yet whether he would be summoned or not.