Of deceits and erasuresThe sooner the finance minister exits the government, the better for the nation.
Data erased from hard disks is retrievable. But how does a tainted leader retrieve his image from people's memory?
Finance Minister Janardan Sharma, in courting one controversy after another, has tainted his image enough already to be ineligible to lead the Ministry of Finance. He is reported to have brought two unauthorised persons into the offices of the Ministry of Finance to change the tax regime on the night of May 28, a day before the announcement of the next fiscal year's budget. If proven to be true, it is a clear case of financial crime that the finance minister has been directly involved in. And so it needs a thorough investigation. What is alarming is that even as calls for a probe into the finance minister's involvement in a potential case of financial crime grow louder, he has tried to mislead the citizens with yet another deceit. And in doing so, he has exposed himself even more as someone who can go to any length towards deceiving the nation if that serves his interests.
The Ministry of Finance is legally bound to keep closed circuit television footage for three months. The guideline related to CCTV installation, prepared by the Home Ministry, mandates that the videos captured by the devices should be kept secure for three months. But when asked about it, the Finance Ministry crossed the limits of absurdity when it said that the footage captured by its devices gets deleted in a mere 13 days for lack of space, claiming that the footage that would be essential in establishing the veracity of the charges against him has been deleted. This is a sign of the utter irresponsibility and sense of entitlement with which the finance minister operates.
The way the finance minister has responded, with obfuscations and lies, there is ample room to question his credibility and legitimacy to continue further as a minister. In fact, Sharma has already lost his credibility—by failing to get the economy any closer to recovery, by attempting, without success, to remove central bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari for no logical reason, and by allegedly committing a financial crime followed by illegally erasing vital evidence of his wrongdoing.
Sharma has brought shame to the Ministry of Finance, so Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should not shy away from removing the finance minister who is clearly lying through his teeth. As the leader of a coalition government that was formed to buttress democracy, Deuba should not be a party to Sharma's manoeuvres. Nor should Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the leader of Sharma's party, the CPN (Maoist Centre), and the leaders of the coalition government. Moreover, it is morally bound to keep that vital information for the benefit of citizens. They are entitled to such information as taxpayers of this nation, and as the people who voted the likes of Sharma to power. If Deuba and his coalition partners still believe in law, they should come forward and conduct an impartial probe into the allegations against Sharma. As for Sharma, the sooner he heads for the exit door, the better—for the nation, not least the Ministry of Finance, which has seen nothing but controversy during his tenure.