KATHMANDU, June 28: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), expressing its concern over the possible financial misappropriation at the Agro Enterprise Center (AEC) under the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has asked the federation to provide details of the projects run by the AEC.
According to CIAA officials, the anti-graft body last Wednesday sent a letter to the FNCCI asking the federation to provide the actual invoices of the expenses made by the AEC and the related documents for scrutiny. The alleged irregularity at the agricultural wing of the federation is under purview of the CIAA.
The AEC has been receiving around Rs 300 million annually from the government and donor agencies to run a number of projects including the ‘One Village One Product (OVOP)’ program. The center is also implementing a High Mountain Agri-business and Livelihood Improvement (HIMALI) Project, Raising Income of Small and Medium Farmers Project and Ginger Trade Competitiveness Project, among others.
The FNCCI has been charged with misappropriating a total of Rs 70 million in these projects of the AEC. Of the earmarked budget, the AEC has been found spending more than 60 percent in salaries and allowances of the officials concerned. The current FNCCI President Bhawani Rana has also been accused of her involvement in the scam.
The possible irregularities were revealed after the then treasurer of the FNCCI Gyanendra Lal Pradhan in January 2019 made public about the scams in his conversation with the media. Pradhan was forced to step down from his post following his comments on ‘corruption in AEC’.