POKHARA, Jan 15: The cabinet of Gandaki Province has decided to award projects worth up to Rs 10 million to consumer committees.
Ram Sharan Basnet, Minister for Infrastructure Development in the provincial government, told media persons about the decision.
The blanket approach of awarding all the projects worth up to Rs 10 million to consumers committee, however, turns blind eye to the fact that such projects, in the lack of effective monitoring and supervision, are implemented by dummy contractors for pocketing huge commissions. Also, consumers committee will not be asked to work in coordination with local units, as per the cabinet decision.
The decision of implementing infrastructure works through consumers committee is also likely to create duplication of works.
Basnet also acknowledged the possible duplication of works. “However, we can easily detect if there is any duplication,” added Basnet.
He also said that consumers committee has to manage equipment for the works if needed. “But such works cannot be given awarded to contractors as we believe consumers can handle such works more efficiently,” added Basnet.
The cabinet has endorsed Consumers Committee Formation, Mobilization and Management Guidelines to award projects worth up to Rs 10 million to consumers committee. The guideline requires consumers committee to chip in a minimum of 10, 20 and 30 percent of the project cost for water supply project, road, and irrigation projects, respectively,” according to Basnet.
Civil contractors, however, feel that the decision will take away their jobs. They also say that larger projects were also being disintegrated so that they can be handed over to consumers committees.
Suresh Shrestha, chairman of Kaski district committee of Federation of Contractors Association of Nepal, said that the decision will only breed corruption. “The consumers committees neither have construction materials nor equipment. They will only produce bills for the works. Also, work quality will be compromised,” he added. “Construction companies have a legal liability of maintenance of the roads for up to 12 months after completion of the project. Consumers committees will have no such liability.”
Construction entrepreneurs are often blamed for not taking initiatives to address local issues arising in implementation of infrastructure works.
Shrestha also argued that the decision to award infrastructure works to consumers committees has been brought with the vested interest of distributing benefits to political cadres.