Nepalese Army to buy military equipment from China at high cost

Published On: May 24, 2023 08:30 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, May 24: The Nepalese Army (NA) is about to purchase military equipment worth Rs 6 billion for the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission. The Army has completed the final stage of procurement of 26 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) and weapons worth Rs 6 billion from neighboring China.

The previous government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba had decided to purchase 26 APCs, 72 tactical vehicles and bullets from China. According to sources, the current government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal has given permission to the army to implement that decision. According to sources, the army is also going to purchase 10,000 SQ rifles from China.

Brigadier General Krishna Prasad Bhandari, spokesperson for the Nepalese Army, said that he was not aware of the purchase of military equipment from China. "I am not aware that the Nepalese Army is buying military equipment, I will later inform you about this after understanding the issue," he said.

Sources claim that the army is going to purchase the vehicles and ammunition needed for the peacekeeping force from China from its welfare fund. For which the process was started two weeks ago. The army is also going to buy four APCs from India with the welfare fund. A quotation has also been taken for the purchase of four APCs from India's Mahindra Company. Sources claim that the price of the APC to be brought from India is around Rs 40 million, while the price of the APC to be purchased from China is Rs 77.75 million.

While preparations are being made for Prime Minister Dahal's visit to India, the Nepalese Army is going to purchase military equipment from China at a high price. Although the price of the military equipment provided by any country cannot be disclosed, the Chinese company North Industries Corporation (Norinco) has disclosed the rate.

China has fixed the price of APC at Rs 77.75 million, which costs around Rs 40 million in India. According to military sources, a team has gone to China to monitor and inspect the APCs that are to be purchased. The quality of APCs produced by Norinco Company is considered to be of poor standard.

In an incident in Kenya in 2019, five UN soldiers were killed in an attack by the rebels. Sources claim that the soldiers deployed in the peacekeeping mission died due to the poor quality of APC purchased from China. The army is going to purchase weapons from such a disputed company without competition. The army claims that the procurement process of military equipment will be under a G2G deal.

"The army is going to procure 26 APCs and 72 tactical vehicles from China secretly without consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and directly sending a letter to the Embassy of China," the source said. Chinese officials have also met Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka after it was confirmed that the army will purchase APC from China.

Lokendra Karki, a local businessman had earlier brokered a deal to purchase K2 weapons from Korea at a very competitive price during the time of the then Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Purna Chandra Thapa. There was a problem with those weapons. Karki had brought arms as an undeclared partner with a person of Rayamajhi surname, who was also a relative of the then CoAS Thapa. During Thapa's tenure, the army purchased weapons worth Rs 1.5 billion from the Korean company Daewoo Precision Industries. The army had purchased 30,000 K2C assault rifles from Korea at a rate of $900 each but the army did not want to bring out the issue of problems with those weapons.

Even before this, the Nepalese army tried to bring weapons from America. Last October, CoAS Prabhuram Sharma talked several times, but it was stopped after the Ministry of Finance said that it would not be possible to arrange the dollars before the election. 

Informed sources said that the government has given approval to purchase weapons from America but the process has been halted for the time being.

“The army has already started the process of bringing weapons from America, but it has been stopped for some time due to lack of dollars," said the source.

The army is about to purchase new weapons after handing over its INSAS rifles and Light Support Weapons (LSW) to the Armed Police Force and INSAS Submachine guns (SMGs) and Light Machine Guns (LMGs) to the Nepal Police.

In June of last year, the government banned the purchase of weapons for the Nepal Police saying that the economic situation of the country was weak, but the government gave the army a tacit approval. The army had started the process of buying 6,000 M-16, M-4 rifles and pistols. Those weapons are also now banned in the US. Citing national security reasons, the army kept the procurement process top secret. Sources claim that there is a huge commission game in the purchase of weapons for the army.

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