Health Minister Basnet records statement at CIAA in TERAMOCS procurement case

Published On: February 10, 2024 08:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 10: Health Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet, who is involved in the procurement of Telecommunication Traffic Monitoring and Fraud Control System (TERAMOCS) of Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA), has given his statement to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

Following the statement given by former Minister of Communications Gyanendra Bahadur Karki a few days ago, Minister Basnet also appeared before the CIAA to provide his statement. Upon receiving statements from both the leaders, the CIAA has finalized preparations to file a case in the TERAMOCS case. "Both leaders have submitted written statements to the CIAA," stated a source.

Even though all the employees involved in the TERAMOCS case have given statements, the statements of incumbent minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet and former minister Karki were pending. The CIAA, which has reached the final stage of registering a graft case at the Special Court, was unable to file the case due to the delay in  taking statements from Minister Basnet and Karki.

“Both Basnet and Karki received the CIAA's letter and responded. Now we are preparing to file a case," said a senior CIAA official, adding, "This is almost the first incident where a former minister came to the CIAA and provided a statement."

A complaint filed with the CIAA alleges that the purchase of TERAMOCS proceeded without legal infrastructure and that the Supreme Court's order was interpreted in a self-serving manner. The TERAMOCS, purchased by the Nepal Telecommunication Authority, remains unimplemented.

Mahendra Man Gurung, the then secretary and currently the chief commissioner of the National Information Commission, who was involved in this case, has also reached the CIAA to record his statement.

The then chairman of NTA Digambar Jha, outgoing chairman Purushottam Khanal, Binod Singh, secretary of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, have already given statements to the CIAA. Even though all the bureaucrats gave statements, the people who led the ministry at the political level disregarded the CIAA. They are now compelled to cooperate with the CIAA.

The incumbent Health Minister Basnet, former Communications Minister Karki, former Communications Secretary Gurung, incumbent Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal, Federal Affairs Secretary Singh, the then Chairman of the NTA Authority Jha, and outgoing Chairman Khanal have been found involved in this case. 

The Public Accounts Committee of the Federal Parliament had also discussed this issue. The Public Accounts Committee handed over the responsibility to investigate this case to the CIAA. Before Public Accounts Committee entrusted the case to the CIAA, Bijay Kumar Roy, Rewati Ram Pantha, Suresh Basnet, Hiranya Prasad Bastakoti, Achyutananda Mishra, Sandeep Adhikari, Surendra Lal Hada, Kailash Karki, Min Prasad Aryal, Dipesh Acharya, Arjun Ghimire, Surya Prasad Lamichhane, Dhanraj Gyawali, Tika Prasad Upreti, Chudamani Chaulagain, Hem Kumar Shrestha, Ram Mani Duwadi, Teknath Acharya and others were interrogated in two stages. Only at the last stage, the then ministers were called for statements.

On November 8, 2021, the then communication secretary Baikuntha Aryal had sought the opinion of the then communication minister Karki regarding the release of supplementary budget for the procurement of this system. Three days later, Minister Karki approved the supplementary budget on November 11, enabling NTA to utilize the budget.

Basnet was the Minister for Communications when the process of purchasing the TERAMOCS technology started.

The CIAA launched an investigation into the case under the leadership of Jha, then-chairman of the CIAA. Outgoing NTA chairman Purushottam Khanal was also embroiled in corruption allegations related to the TERAMOCS procurement case.

The CIAA has also intensified the investigation on matters including suspicious transactions of companies in tax haven countries. 

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