EC's Prado purchase plan hits a snag

Published On: July 12, 2017 01:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 11: Election commissioners' attempt to purchase five Prado jeeps has hit a snag after the Ministry of Finance rejected the proposal to buy new vehicles this time.  

A proposal was forwarded to the ministry by the Election Commission requesting approval of budget for five Prado jeeps to all five commissioners. The ministry, however, declined to approve budget for the jeeps. 

Officials at both the ministry and EC said chances of procuring Prado jeeps for the commissioners this fiscal year have ended with the ministry's reluctance to approve the proposal and the fiscal year expiring shortly. "There is no possibility of purchasing new vehicles for commissioners this time," said EC Spokesperson Surya Parasad Sharma. 
Of the total Rs 10 billion allotted for the local elections, the EC has already returned unspent Rs 3 billion to the ministry considering expiry of the fiscal year. "The unspent budget has already been returned to the ministry. So, there is no plan to procure cars this time," said Spokesperson Sharma. 

Currently, the EC has arranged two vehicles to each commissioner. Despite having cars, the commissioners have decided on their own to procure new Prado jeeps.  Secretary at the EC, Gopinath Mainali, was transferred in a row over procurement of luxury cars for the five election commissioners and other logistics issues.

Joint-secretary Mahshwar Neupane, who replaced Mainali, had approached the ministry twice for approving budget for Prado jeeps. But the ministry turned down the proposal. 
The EC purchases dozens of vehicles during each election. Four vehicles were purchased for commissioners in the 2008 CA elections and four more Toyota Land Cruisers were purchased in 2013. This time, the government has purchased four cars and a jeep apart from 36 four wheelers.

Informed sources at the EC say there are already 72 vehicles with the EC but the commissioners were in favor of procuring new Prado jeeps before budget freezes in context of fiscal year expiring in mid-July.

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