PM lies to House over contract awarded to Huawei

Published On: January 7, 2019 08:02 AM NPT By: Sunil Sapkota

KATHMANDU, Jan 7: Prime Minister KP Oli on Sunday lied to the parliament about the contract for a Digital Action Room (DAR) at his office. 

The prime minister told the parliament that the Video Conferencing System for the DAR was procured from Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei’s subsidiary company China Communications Services (CCS) on December 21 for Rs 54.2 million through a competitive bidding. 

But it has already been revealed that the procurement was made without competitive bidding and the public procurement law was violated in the process. The contract was awarded to Huawei through direct negotiations, according to sources. Earlier, a notice issued by the National Information Technology Center (NITC) calling for an open competition to set up the conferencing system was canceled following intervention by Prime Minister Oli’s chief political adviser Bishnu Rimal and honorary IT consultant at the Prime Minister’s Office, Asgar Ali, according to sources privy to the development.

Dismissing news reports about the involvement of his IT consultant Ali in handing the contract to Huawei Technologies Company Limited without soliciting competitive bids, Prime Minister Oli said, “The contract was awarded through competitive bidding in accordance with the law.”

The system being set up is meant for rapid response to various issues of governance.

The decision to award the contract to Huawei, by canceling an open competition, was taken just one-and-a-half months after Ali paid a visit to China at the invitation of Huawei Technologies. Republica has obtained evidence that computer engineer at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Hari Prasad Pokhrel and Kshitiz Rimal, son of chief political adviser Bishnu Rimal, accompanied Ali during the Huawei-sponsored visit.

Ali, who is also associated with e-Sewa, an online business company, has been facing criticism for misusing his position as the prime minister’s IT consultant to build up a personal network with reputed international IT companies, in an instance of conflict of interest.

Adviser Rimal is also in a conflict of interest because of the involvement of his son Kshitiz in the Huawei visit. Kshitiz also works with e-Sewa, the company Ali is associated with.

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