December 26, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has upped its ante in investigating cases of corruption and irregularities. Starting with circulating 14-point ‘Public Procurement and Development Program Reform Work Plan 2075’ to ministries and agencies regarding malpractices in procurement of goods, equipment and services in construction of projects and recommending actions to prevent those malpractices early this month, CIAA has in between filed cases at Special Court against big corruption cases. A case was filed, early this month, against former minister Bikram Pandey and 20 other individuals, on charge of embezzling billions while building Sikta Irrigation Project in Banke. A week ago, yet another graft case was filed against former governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, Dr Tilak Rawal, and other officials for their alleged involvement in corruption while printing polymer notes of Rs 10. They are accused of embezzling Rs 9.1 million in printing 50 million polymer notes of Rs 10. And on Monday it filed a case at the Special Court against 16 people including land revenue officials and other individuals on the charge of selling a plot of land by creating a fake owner and land ownership certificate while keeping the rightful owner in the dark. These officials have been indicted of selling two-ropani eight-aana of land in Budhanilkantha Municipality by creating a fake land owner. We welcome these initiatives by CIAA and urge the anti-corruption watchdog to keep the momentum.
But CIAA needs to gear up its efforts even further. According to its 28th annual report virtually every sector is plagued by corruption. The highest number of corruption complaints are related to education sector (18.32 percent) followed by federal affairs (18.02 percent) and land (6.48 percent). Similarly, 4.48 percent of the complaints are related to forests, 4.37 percent to health sector, 4.13 percent to home administration, 2.82 percent to physical infrastructure and transport ministry, 2.59 percent to the finance ministry, and 38.8 percent to the remaining ministries. This means that corruption is pervasive. It demands greater vigilance from CIAA. The anti-graft body also needs to correct some of the misimpressions created by its own activities. Often, CIAA is seen as serving the government in power, even being used as a tool to exact revenge against its own and government’s opponents. It is also accused of selectively indicting officials.
It is alleged of running only after small fishes while leaving big corruption scams with involvement of powerful political leaders untouched. Yet another impression is that CIAA remains proactive for certain period of time, while remaining inactive most other times. CIAA can change this impression by investigating all corruption cases, irrespective of political affiliation of the wrongdoers. People want to see CIAA becoming active not only in indicting wrongdoers but also demonstrating deep commitment and fairness. Corruption needs to be controlled in every sector. CIAA needs to remain watchful of every sector and ensure that none of the wrongdoers can escape its watch. We want to see CIAA working proactively to control rampant corruption, with fairness and without bias.