Corruption rife

Transformer

The NEA has been mired into one after another controversies when it comes to procuring goods and services involving billions of rupees

Four years after the infamous transformer purchase scandal involving high-ranking officials of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) surfaced, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has summoned former government officials to investigate their possible involvement in the scam causing huge losses to the NEA. The anti-graft body summoned former chief secretary Rajendra Kishor Kshetri, former energy secretary Bishwo Prakash Pandit and secretary of the Office of Nepal Trust Arjun Kumar Karki who once served as NEA managing director. A Chinese supplier – Hubei Sunlight Electric Co. – had supplied over a thousand sub-standard transformers to the NEA breaching the specification mentioned during a global tender. The Chinese company was supposed to supply various capacity transformers with copper wires. Instead of copper wires inside the transformers, the company used aluminum wires which were later found to be malfunctioning when installed at different locations. The Special Court on March 2013 had ordered the government to slap a fine of Rs. 461.88 million against the company for supplying the sub-standard goods. Then NEA managing director Rameshwor Yadav was also sentenced to three years and five months in jail along with a fine of Rs. 135,000 by the Special Court.

The CIAA recorded statements of Kshetri and Pandit on Sunday to ascertain their involvement on the scam in which as many as 25 NEA officials were charge-sheeted for procuring the sub-standard transformers. Karki was head of the committee procuring the transformers. Kshetri was summoned to have his statement recorded as he was involved in settling the case. The supplier had, after the scan came to the light, promised to replace the sub-standard transformers after arbitration. The CIAA has asked Kshetri why the case had been settled through arbitration when the case had already been filed at the court. The CIAA had carried out a thorough investigation on the scandal and had found that almost all the officials involved in the estimates, procurement and delivery of the transformers had their roles in purchasing the sub-standard transformers.

It was one of the biggest scandals in  NEA’s history. The top staffers of the NEA were dragged into the court after their involvements were found in the shoddy deal. The state power utility has been mired into one after another controversies when it comes to procuring goods and services involving billions of rupees. The then NEA officials would not have reached a deal with the Chinese company to purchase the sub-standard transformers without the involvement of the higher level of authority at the Ministry of Energy. The network of corruption is so intertwined in all government agencies that every decision-making official may be found guilty of his/her involvement in one or the other case of corruption. It is the corruption, irregularities, over-staffing and inefficiency that have made NEA a loss-making entity. A few months ago, a number of meter readers were found to be involved in amassing huge amount of money from private business firms in exchange for installing the meters showing far less readings than the actual amount of money the firms were supposed to pay to NEA. There must be a zero tolerance to orruption to improve quality of the state entities.

 

Source : The Himalayan Times (editorial)