SURKHET, March 5: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Karnali Provincial Assembly has concluded that over Rs 3.7 million was embezzled during inauguration of Karnali-Rara Tourism Year – 2075 BS.
Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli had inaugurated the year-long tourism promotional campaign on the banks of Rara Lake on April 14, 2018.
The PAC arrived at the conclusion after making detailed study of expenses incurred during the inauguration. The committee has submitted its study report to Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, directing the provincial government to take strong action against the wrongdoers.
According to the report, the provincial government spent Rs 8.7 million for inauguration of the Karnali-Rara Tourism Year campaign. However, the government has managed to provide expenditure details of only Rs 4.9 million, according to expenditure report tabled in the provincial assembly on June 4 last year. Since then, the provincial government has provided different expenditure details to the PAC and its sub-committee formed to look into irregularities during the inauguration ceremony.
“We conducted our investigation based on expenditure report submitted by Minister for Financial Affairs of Karnali Province, Prakash Jwala. Expenses worth Rs 3.7 million are unaccounted for,” PAC Chairperson Din Bandhu Shrestha said, speaking at a press meet on Sunday. He further added that the committee has submitted its report to the Chief Minister, directing the government to take needful action against the guilty people.
The cabinet meeting of Karnali Province had given its ministries and other agencies the authority to spend a total of Rs 4.6 million for the inauguration program. “We found that the provincial agencies flouted procurement laws and financial regulations. Hence, all expenses made by them are unaccounted for,” Shrestha added.
Similarly, Gopal Sharma, a member of the sub-committee, said they conducted investigation based on documents submitted by the government to the provincial assembly. “They very first mistake is that the provincial government gave spending authority without making any projection and planning,” Sharma said. “Moreover, they spent more than the allocated amount going against the law.”
Sharma also said that the provincial government has submitted three different reports to the provincial assembly, PAC’s sub-committee and the Office of Auditor General.
Documents provided by the provincial government shows 76 guests enjoyed a total of 44 meals during the inauguration ceremony.
Karbir Shahi, the coordinator of the sub-committee, said that the expenditure made by the provincial government during inauguration is higher than the annual budget allocated to 10 districts of the province to celebrate the tourism year campaign. “The government also used Rs 900,000 budget allocated for Land and Water Resources Program for the inauguration program,” Shahi added.
Photo caption: Karnali Provincial Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Din Bandhu Shrestha, along with members of the committee, informing media persons about financial irregularities.