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House tells CIAA to probe irregularities in medical equipment purchase

File: A Public Accounts Committee meeting

Kathmandu, December 18

The Public Accounts Committee in the House of Representatives has concluded the purchase of medical equipment from China for the country’s Covid-19 response in March this year did not follow established rules. The panel has referred the case to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority for further investigation.

For the past few months, the parliamentary panel was looking into the issue. For a meeting, the panel had invited Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal in its meeting today.

Following the meeting with the minister, the committee decided to write to the constitutional anti-corruption watchdog for further investigation, according to its secretary Roj Nath Pandey.

“The CIAA will be directed to identify culprits involved in the irregularities and take legal action against them,” he informed.

After reports of irregularities, the government was forced to cancel the deal made for the import of the goods via a private company named Omni Business Group.

Studying documents obtained from the ministry and interrogating the concerned officials, it has been found that the deal was made under the leadership of the ministry’s expert advisor Dr Khem Karki who did not have any right for that. Later, Minister Dhakal endorsed it, concludes the committee.

The committee has accused the government of purchasing the equipment at a high cost without studying the market scenario. However, defending that, the minister told lawmakers today that the government purchased the equipment in rush so as to address the crisis in the country. He argued there was not any irregularity in the deal as the government later took action against Omni Group.

Nonetheless, the committee decided against his arguments.

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