Prof conceals letter seeking action against USAID fund misuse

Published On: June 1, 2019 07:13 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 1: It has come to light that Prof Dr Dambar Dhoj Chemjong, head of the Central Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, concealed a letter sent by the university's Executive Council regarding action against misuse of funds provided by USAID.

TU's Executive Council on May 23 dispatched a letter to the department through its head after deciding to take action against the embezzlement of funds provided by USAID, according to the Office of the Vice Chancellor. Although it is mandatory for the department to officially register such a letter, this has not yet been done, according to sources at the department.

Chemjong conceded that the letter was sent by the TU Executive Council and that it recommended action as per a probe report. “I have received the letter but have not registered it at the department as it is not always necessary to register letters. Confidential letters are sometimes registered but on many occasions they are not,” he claimed.

Chemjong further admitted that the department head was responsible for taking action as per the directions of the executive council. “We are studying the matter and will take forward the action needed as soon as per the probe report is received,” he added.

The executive council decision says that the project report was illegally produced , misusing the letter-head and stamp marks of the university, without seeking permission from the TU authorities, without following the rules and regulations, and without handing over the post of project management even after a change of department head.

Two different projects funded at about Rs 140 million are being illegally undertaken in the name of the department, according to the probe report submitted to the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

On May 19, the vice chancellor's office called a meeting on the report. Following the meeting, the office wrote to the department chief to take action, according to the office.

The report indicates that Chemjong was involved in the misuse of USAID funds. A four-member probe committee recently submitted its report on projects operated by the department. The committee was formed on November 29, 2018 as per a decision of the executive council .

According to the report not yet made public , the department signed an agreement with USAID on April 23/26, 2017 for a project —A Study on State of Social Inclusion in Nepal 2017 (SOSIN)---with Rs 130 million (US$ 1,299,164.00) in funding. The department signed another agreement on April 16/17, 2018 with the US-based Open Society Foundations for the project, Inclusive Democracy and Local Governance in Nepal, with US$ 119,702.00 in funding.

According to the report, the technical proposal for the project was prepared, but it was not approved by the department. Chemjong was appointed head of the department after the previous incumbent resigned in August . But Chemjong was given the post of project chief in contravention of the rules. Along with Chemjong, accounts officer at the department Ratna Devi Kandel has been accused of misusing project funds.Altogether 138 persons including department officials and teachers as well as project advisers were appointed to the project. The program manager is paid Rs 209,000 per month while Rs 1,500-3,000 is allocated as daily field allowance and Rs 10,000 as meeting allowance for experts. According to the probe report, office equipment worth Rs 3 million was purchased for the office .USAID has already handed over Rs 72,004,375 to the account of the Social Inclusion project at Nepal Bank Ltd, Kirtipur.Cases were filed at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and the National Vigilance Center (NVC) over misuse of project funds.

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