Kathmandu, January 10
The Ministry of Finance has refused to allocate funds for the controversial plan to establish a security printing press, the first of its kind in Nepal.
The ministry withdrew from its earlier decision to release Rs 4.5 billion for the press proposed to be established in Banepa of Kavre. It means the project will be halted for now.
A ministry official says the ministry revoked the decision as the first meeting of the new cabinet formed in December 2022 has decided to promote austerity as far as possible.
Earlier, the project was in controversy due to charges of corruption. In February 2020, an audiotape leaked out, in which the then communications minister Gokul Baskota had demanded Rs 740 million commission from the agent of a Swiss company, KBA-Notasys, to give his side a contract to establish a security printing press in Nepal. The controversy had cost Baskota his ministerial job.
Later, the government awarded the contract to import and install the security printing press to the second-lowest bidder, not the lowest one, raising eyebrows.
The government plans to print postal stamps, excise duty stickers, and academic credentials with the machine. Once the machine comes into operation, it can save Rs 9 billion every year, claims the government.