Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari (left) answers questions on procurement of wide-body aircraft raised by lawmakers in the meeting of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). | Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, Dec 11: It has already been three weeks since the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) started investigation into the controversial purchase of wide-body aircraft by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). However, but it has not even formed a sub-committee yet to take it forward, which is the standard practice to deal with any serious financial matter.
In the wake of controversies surrounding the procurement process of wide-body aircraft, the PAC had taken up the issue and started studying it.
Talking to Republica, PAC Chairman Bharat Kumar Shah said that the committee was not planning to form a sub-committee immediately, but it would work as per the demand of time and situation. “If the committee feels that a sub-committee is required for investigation, we will form it.”
“The committee is very serious about this issue, and it would not take the risk of coming to a hasty conclusion,” he said, adding, “It is a financial matter and of course a complicated issue. It has to be studied in-depth. We have to study, listen and investigate deeply.”
So far, the committee has called officials of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation several times for inquiry. However, the meetings end without making any headway, with the committee asking the same questions repeatedly and the authorities failing to give satisfactory answer.
The PAC is concerned about two major issues: possible irregularity in the procurement process and business plan for the aircraft.
Meanwhile, other concerned bodies are also investigating the matter from their own levels. One of them is the International Relation Committee of the parliament that has formed a sub-committee with a month’s deadline for investigation.
Talking about the investigation process, Som Bahadur Thapa, former secretary of PAC, said that the case required a thorough study. “Without concrete knowledge of the case, the committee cannot come to a conclusion. But somehow there seems lack of proper study on this issue.”
“There is no other option than investigating the matter by forming a sub-committee,” he said.
Talking about the ongoing discussions in the PAC, Thapa said either the NAC failed to submit proper documents or the PAC failed to study them properly.
“Investigation of financial irregularities is not an easy task,” he added. “It may take a bit longer. Nevertheless, the PAC needs to work actively on this issue. Being a responsible authority, the PAC has to seek truth rigorously.”