KATHMANDU, July 28: The Parliamentary Special Committee has come under pressure from the ruling alliance to give a 'clean chit' to former Finance Minister Janardan Sharma after there was no CCTV footage of him allowing unauthorized people into the finance ministry in the middle of the night while preparing the budget for the fiscal year 2022/23.
The work of preparing the report by the committee on Wednesday was affected due to a dispute over whether to show the former finance minister guilty. Due to this, the committee has called a meeting to finalize the report for 12 noon on Thursday. Since there is no consensus in the committee, a report will be made on the basis of a majority.
An 11-member parliamentary special investigation committee was formed on July 6 after the then Finance Minister Sharma was accused of manipulating tax rates by inviting unauthorized persons at the finance ministry while preparing the 2022/23 budget. In the committee, there are four members from the CPN-UML, the main opposition party, while the approval of six members is needed for a majority decision. The report is being prepared based on the evidence received and the statements given by those who the probe committee has grilled so far.
The main opposition party CPN-UML has suspected that some footage may have been deleted from the hard disk when it came to the committee from the Ministry of Finance. They have argued that the former Finance Minister cannot be given a 'clean chit' as CCTV footage was not made public immediately after the controversy arose. However, the members of the ruling coalition have taken a stand that they cannot press charges against Sharma as no one has acknowledged the incident and unauthorized people were not seen in the CCTV footage.
According to a source, when the CCTV footage of the finance ministry was recovered, some people and an unknown vehicle were seen in the finance ministry on the night of May 28. After finalizing the report on Thursday, the committee will make it public on Friday.
The committee had taken statements from the former Minister of Finance, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Revenue, Head of Revenue Management Division, Head of Budget and Program Division, Director General of Customs Department, Director General of Internal Revenue Department, former Finance Secretary. However, none of them stated that any unauthorized person had entered the ministry in the middle of the night on May 28. This has increased suspicion that the investigation was influenced by the ruling alliance.