Developments of the past one week have raised serious questions about the conduct of the Nepal Communist Party government. They indicate how low the actors close to the government can go to make money during the life-threatening crisis of COVID-19 and to what extent they can fall to hide their mistakes from the public. First, there was the procurement scam of medical logistics. The company to which the government awarded the contract for this job, Omni Group, had no prior experience of supplying medical goods. The contract was awarded in haste and in highly inflated rates. Some of the medical items brought by the Omni group were as many as 28 times more expensive than normal market prices. When this came out in the media, the government canceled the contract with the Omni Group. When an online newspaper, Kathmanduexpress, published the report about the collusion among relatives and contacts of serving ministers, IT consultant to the Prime Minister’s Office Asgar Ali and PM’s other advisors, that report was deleted by Ali’s nexus without the knowledge of the online newspaper. All this was done, it has been established, by those who are close to the power centers and who are in this game of making money by abusing power, tarnishing the image of the government and the country.
As the world is struggling to fight COVID-19 and Nepal is under the threat of contagion, such kinds of immoral, mean and criminal behaviors from the actors close to the government must not be tolerated. We strongly condemn these activities happening this week and demand that those involved in a range of cases from corruption to cyber hacking to a blatant attack on the press are prosecuted. Likes of Asgar Ali and others have been abusing authority for long. Ali has taken advantage of his post in securing government contracts for his company or to those who are close to him and the ruling party. ExtensoData, Asgar Ali's data company, is even known to be accessing people's vital data. The incident of his alleged involvement in the unauthorized removal of the news story from Kathmandupress.com proves it. There are others who are running the show of corruption from Singha Durbar.
We wonder if Prime Minister Oli, due to his health issue, is taking stock of the situation from Baluwatar. Because of his health issue, people have largely refrained from dragging the PM into this vortex of corruption launched by people he has appointed. But if he is watching this well, he should immediately sack all the persons implicated in recent scams. This is a height of dereliction of duty, abuse of power and show of attack on the press when the PM is ill, the country is in lockdown under perpetual fear of contagion of COVID-19, the people are suffering and the country’s economic health is dangerously vulnerable. The PM should be bold enough to take bold actions against all these actors who are making a mockery of the whole system before people start holding the PM himself culpable.