Probe Rs 130m embezzlement at Sajha Prakashan: OAG

Published On: April 17, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Bishnu Prasad Aryal

KATHMANDU, April 17: A report published by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) shows that officials at Sajha Prakashan gobbled up Rs 130.3 million by selling books printed by Janak Education Materials Center (JEMC) in the year 2074 BS (2017/18).

The annual report of the OAG was recently published, revealing massive irregularities of government funds in 2017/18.

The government has not adopted the policy of providing grants to organizations registered as per the Cooperatives Act 1981. But a cabinet decision of December 11, 2016 approved to provide Rs 100 million in grants to Sajha Prakashan which has been registered under the same act.

The OAG report has shown that textbooks of Grades 1 to 12, printed by JEMC, were sold by Sajha Prakashan by taking 18 percent service charge. Sajha collected Rs 130.3 million by selling the books until mid-July, 1017. However, it did not return the amount to JEMC. Instead, it spent the amount collected.

The amount was paid by the Ministry of Education directly to the JEMC in the name of grants to Sajha Prakashan. "The spending of the funds collected by selling textbooks printed by JEMC, instead of returning it to the latter must be probed," says the OAG report.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) sacked Dolindra Prasad Sharma, chairman and general manager of Sajha  Prakashan on September 24, accusing him of multiple irregularities.
A meeting of the education ministry chaired by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha decided to sack Sharma from the post of chairperson, GM and member of the board.

However, the Supreme Court issued an interim order to the government on October 31, 2017, asking it to reinstate Sharma. A division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshi and Prakash Man Singh Raut on October 31 issued an interim order to the MoE. Sharma had moved the apex court on October 8, demanding an interim order against the government decision to sack him. 

GM Sharma has been accused of appointing those close to political leaders and media persons, not carrying out audit after he was appointed at Sajha, not maintaining records of annual incomes and book publications, allowing the use of Sajha logo by private publishers, transferring   Rs 5 million from Sajha's account to the GM's account, and also serving as chairman against the rules. 

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