No pre-agreement with companies in future, PAC to govt
KATHMANDU, March 23: Public Accounts Comitee (PAC) of the parliament on Friday issued a strict instruction to Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and other ministers to refrain from signing pre-agreements with foreign companies eying contracts in development projects in Nepal.
The committee grilled Pun for signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China CAMC Engineering Company - promising to support it in a bid process even before Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) invited the bid. It concluded that his move was legally flawed. However, it did not raise question over the ongoing tender process.
"The MoU signed by Pun bypasses the existing legal procedures. We instruct him not to repeat the mistake again," said Ram Krishna Yadav, Chairman of PAC. The committee also asked Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) for details of other MoUs, if any, signed by ministers.
The Parliamentary committee also instructed CAAN to further extend the deadline of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract bid called for developing international airport in Pokhara to ensure transparency in the biding process.
Responding to lawmakers´ queries, Pun earlier said he was ready to annul the MoU if it caused difficulty in the tender process. "I signed the agreement as MoTCA consistently pushed MoF to pave the way for finalizing the soft loan deal. I thought signing the MoU would faciliate the process," he stated.
Nepali Congress lawmaker Dip Kumar Upadhaya, who first disclosed Pun´s agreement with China CAMC, said finance minister´s action was a clear case of abuse of authority. "How could he commit support to a particular company when the government was yet to open bid for selecting EPC contractor. This has tainted our image in the international arena," he stated.
In the MoU, which Upadhyaya circulated at the Committee on Wednesday, Pun committed that "the government of Nepal shall provide CAMC the solid and substantial support" in a tender that CAAN would call for EPC contract for the regional international airport in Pokhara.
CPN UML Lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari urged the government to correct the mistake commited by Pun and provide equal and fair opportunities so that all interested Chinese Companies could participate in the tender.
CAAN invited bids from Chinese promoted company on February 9 with the deadline of 45 days which lawmakers said was too short for the $ 166 million mega project. A board meeting Wednesday extended the period of bid submission by 30 days.