Suspicions regarding the involvement of individual payment settlement companies pressuring authorities to postpone the NPG's implementation are deeply troubling. Such undue influence compromises the integrity of the system and erodes public trust.
In a recent development that has sent shockwaves throughout the nation, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has filed corruption cases against high-ranking government officials. The charges relate to the alleged misappropriation of a staggering Rs 232.70 million during the procurement of software for the National Payment Gateway (NPG). This revelation has brought to light a deeply troubling issue within the government, and it is imperative that the CIAA conducts a thorough investigation to expose the truth and hold the guilty accountable. The NPG, a crucial platform integrating various online payment systems, was intended to streamline financial transactions for both the government and private entities. Its implementation should have been overseen by the Nepal Rastra Bank, the country's central bank, to ensure effective operation and reduce risks in the existing online payment systems. However, the delay in its deployment has been attributed to a lack of coordination between government agencies and the central bank.
The cases filed by the CIAA highlight the involvement of prominent figures, including Madhu Kumar Marasini, a former secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the current secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies. Alongside Marasini, individuals such as Sunil Paudel, the former Managing Director of Nepal Telecom, and Sanjay Sharma, the former Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology, have also been implicated in these corruption cases. The gravity of the allegations cannot be overstated. The accused officials allegedly formed an alliance to siphon off a substantial amount from the state coffers, an act that reflects a severe breach of trust and a blatant disregard for the well-being of the nation and its citizens. Furthermore, Marasini's alleged involvement in allocating funds for software procurement without proper authorization is a clear violation of established rules and procedures. One of the most alarming aspects of this case is the lack of due diligence before procuring the software. Despite the technical nature of the NPG, the procurement process lacked the involvement of banking experts and consultations with stakeholders. Moreover, the absence of approval from the Nepal Rastra Bank for the NPG, as mandated by the Payment and Settlement Act of 2019, raises significant concerns about regulatory compliance.
The delay in implementing the NPG has adversely affected banks and financial institutions, which have been forced to rely on international payment gateways, incurring hefty expenses for digital transactions. The NPG is essential for connecting all institutions involved in electronic transactions, ensuring national sovereignty and minimizing operational costs. Additionally, suspicions regarding the involvement of individual payment settlement companies pressuring authorities to postpone the NPG's implementation are deeply troubling. Such undue influence compromises the integrity of the system and erodes public trust. In light of these serious allegations and their potential ramifications for the nation, the CIAA must conduct an exhaustive investigation to uncover the truth. It is crucial to hold the guilty parties accountable for their actions, regardless of their positions or affiliations. Justice must prevail, and the Nepalese people deserve transparency, accountability, and a government that prioritizes their well-being over personal gains. The nation is watching, and it is essential that the CIAA upholds its duty to uncover the truth, bring the guilty to justice, and restore faith in the system. The fight against corruption demands unwavering determination and a commitment to a brighter, more transparent future for Nepal.