Blinded by goldRuling and opposition parties continue to bicker over the gold scam probe amid a sinking economy.
The investigation of twin gold scams concerning the hauls of 61kg and 9kg of the yellow metal, respectively, which were smuggled into the country via the Tribhuvan International Airport, is going nowhere. Not for lack of effort. The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police has, by all accounts, undertaken a credible investigation and produced voluminous books of evidence. Even if there were to be prosecution based solely on this evidence, perhaps a lot of headway could be made in settling these cases. But once again it is politics that is preventing such an outcome. A month after agreeing to form a commission to oversee the whole investigation, the ruling and opposition parties continue to bicker over its terms of reference. While the ruling parties are in favour of giving greater weight to the CIB investigation in order not to undermine the work of a vital state institution, the CPN-UML, the main opposition, is vehement that the new commission should have the final say. The UML says that while the CIB’s work is commendable, it does not trust the government and its agencies to get to the bottom of the matter.
But then the two sides were discussing pretty much the same thing a month ago. People were made to believe that the decision to form a commission by the September 22 deadline had been taken after they had settled their differences over the body’s TOR. But no, they still seem miles apart on the issue. This makes one suspect that neither the government nor the opposition is serious about resolving the cases and punishing the guilty, as both have skeletons in their closets. Is the whole drama being played out for public consumption while the main parties have already agreed to quietly let the probe lapse to save the guilty in their ranks, people are asking? Many Nepalis find it hard to believe that there is no evidence to prosecute culprits in two classic cases of day-light robbery. Adding their doubts is the fact that while low-level operatives in two scams were nabbed, those at the decision-making level, without whose connivance it would have been impossible to carry out these illegal activities, continue to roam free.
The UML for long obstructed the federal Parliament asking for the high-level committee. It relented only when the government agreed to heed its demand. Now the main opposition is again gearing up to block parliamentary procedures, as they accuse the ruling parties of trying to bypass them in the twin investigations. The ruling parties, meanwhile, are busy blaming the “obstructionist ways” of UML boss KP Sharma Oli. This is happening at a time the country is battling an unprecedented economic crisis. Employees in most sectors have not been paid in months. On the eve of Dashain, inflation is touching the skies. Hundreds of billions of rupees continue to be parked in the banks while dearth of spending has ground the economy to a halt. Yet our politicians and parliamentarians continue to spend most of their time bickering over what should be an open and shut case.