KATHMANDU, March 14: Suspecting irregularities, parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday directed the government to scrap the procurement of a security printing press from France under a government to government (G2G) model.
The committee’s directive comes two weeks after the resignation of Gokul Baskota as communications and information technology minister. He was caught on audiotape bargaining for kickbacks from a Swiss company for the security press contract.
The PAC has been probing the procurement issue for over a month. Lawmakers questioned why the cost of the procurement deal had gone up even under a G2G model, and the committee has now asked the government to open the procurement to a global tender.
“The committee directed the government to scrap the procurement deal with France after finding that there was no fair competition and the cost was hiked up in unusual fashion,” said Rojnath Pandey, secretary at the PAC.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology decided to procure the security press from France in December. French company INGROUPE had proposed to set up the press at a cost of Rs 23.16 billion, according to the ministry.
The committee has also asked the government to call an open global tender if such a press is necessary for the country, reads the decision.
The PAC has decided to write to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to probe the audio tape leak that implicated Baskota in wrongdoing.
Officials involved in evaluation of the French company and in approving the procurement cost under the G2G deal have been summoned by the committee to furnish clarifications.