Panel investigates tax amendment charges seeking film footage of Singha Durbar gates


The parliamentary committee formed to investigate allegations that Janardan Sharma invited two foreigners to change tax rates at the eleventh hour has searched for CCTV footage of the gates of Singha Durbar, just as it awaits a response from the Nepalese police regarding “deleted” CCTV footage. of the Ministry of Finance.

“Since the Nepalese police said it would take a few more days to report, we decided to search for the CCTV footage of the south and west gates of the Singha Durbar,” said committee member Man Bahadur Bishwakarma. parliamentary inquiry. .

The Ministry of Finance is located inside Singha Durbar, the administrative center of the county.

Sharma resigned as finance minister on July 6 after the formation of the 11-member investigative group.

Sharma is facing allegations that he invited two foreigners to the finance ministry on the night of May 28, who then changed tax rates in the budget he presented to parliament on May 29. Media suggests Finance Secretary Madhu Marasini, Revenue Secretary Krishna Hari Pushkar, Joint Secretary Bhupal Baral [head, revenue management division] and co-secretary Chakra Bahadur Budha [head, budget and program division] were present when Sharma allegedly employed the two men to alter taxes.

The investigating committee has already questioned relevant government officials, who have denied any outside involvement in changing tax rates.

With the images of the doors, the panel wants to verify whether foreigners have entered the premises of Singha Durbar and if so, when, according to Bishwakarma.

The Inquiry Committee had requested the footage from the night of May 28 from the Ministry of Finance, but the ministry had handed over the hard drive saying the footage had been erased as the storage could only keep records of 13 days.

The committee had sent the hard drive to the Nepal Police Forensic Division on Wednesday.

“We decided to search the footage to verify whether the two foreigners had entered Singha Durbar on the eve of budget day,” said joint secretary of the parliament’s secretariat, Surendra Aryal, who worked as the committee’s secretary. ‘investigation. “We have already sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance.”

He said the panel demanded the footage from May 28 noon to May 29 noon of the south and west gates because the east gate remains open only during office hours.

Although formed on July 6 with a 10-day deadline to investigate and submit its report and recommendations, the committee did not begin its work until July 12. His 10-day term ended on July 21 and on the same day his term was extended for seven days. .

His extended deadline ends Thursday.

So far, the committee seems to have drawn a blank line, with no particular leads to pursue.

On Wednesday, the committee questioned Sharma about the allegations, which he flatly denied, saying the charges against him were fabricated.

The committee also interviewed two reporters from the Annapurna Post, a vernacular daily, which first reported that Sharma changed the tax rates with the help of two intermediaries. The two reporters told the committee they “have the evidence” but could not reveal it.

The committee, formed after the main opposition party CPN-UML consistently demanded a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations against Sharma, has four members from the UML and two from the Nepalese Congress and two from the CPN (Maoist Centre). From CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, there is one member each.

Committee members are Khagaraj Adhikari, Pradeep Gyawali, Bhanubhakta Dhakal and Bimala BK from UML; Dev Gurung and Shakti Basnet from the Maoist Centre; Pushpa Bhusal and Sitaram Yadav representing Congress; Sarala Kumari Yadav of the United Socialist; Laxman Lal Karna of the Loktantrik Samajbadi party; and Surendra Yadav from the Janata Samajbadi party.

The Congress, the Maoist Centre, the United Socialist and the Janata Samajbadi are partners in the current coalition.

Despite the media outcry, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had shown little interest in taking action against Sharma.

Sharma is a leader of the Maoist Center, a key coalition partner in the Deuba government.

After the formation of the investigative committee, some suspected it was more eye drops than the real intention of holding the accused accountable, as Sharma enjoys the protection of his party leader Dahal and the Prime Minister Deuba.

Some members of the panel representing the UML accused the officials of not cooperating with the investigation.

“We even heard a former finance minister publicly state that Sharma would return to the post of finance minister after about 10 days,” said UML panel member Khagaraj Adhikari. “Officials did not cooperate with our investigation and there were attempts to cover up the incident.”

Adhikari said there were attempts to cover up the incident, with some officials even telling the panel that a new group of officials took over the preparation of the budget at 3 a.m.

A case has even been filed in the Supreme Court demanding an order to keep the CCTV recordings of all ministries safe and the two finance ministry secretaries relieved for tampering with evidence.

But on July 16, the Supreme Court has just noted that “it cannot imagine that the CCTV recordings of Singha Durbar, the main administrative center of the country, are not kept securely by the authorities”.

The court refused to issue an order as requested by the petitioners – lawyers Baburam Aryal, Saroj Krishna Ghimire and Shishir Kumar Yadav as well as Bina Yadav of Madhav Narayan-9 from Rautahat district.

Single bench Judge Kumar Regmi said an interim order was not needed as it is unimaginable that Singha Durbar’s CCTV data is unsafe.

Aryal, secretary of the inquiry committee, said the committee hopes to reach a conclusion by Monday.

“The next Investigative Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday morning,” Aryal told the Post.

Rameshore Khanal, a former finance secretary, says the whole investigation process looks shady.

“It looks like the Inquiry Committee will eventually produce a report to give Sharma a proper boost, even though it has become clear that outsiders have been employed to change tax rates,” Khanal, who had resigned in March 2011 after his differences with then finance minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari. “I was told that foreigners had indeed entered the ministry, but they [officials] could not challenge the minister.

According to Khanal, failing to provide the necessary CCTV footage and the finance secretary feeling uneasy when the committee questioned him shows that there is something wrong,

“Ministry officials appear to be under extreme pressure fearing reprisals from the defendants,” Khanal said. “The panel is expected to speak to the finance secretary again ensuring his safety.”


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