Sajha Prakashan told to furnish financial recordsThe parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday directed Sajha Prakashan to submit its financial records for the last five years as it begins a probe into suspected embezzlement by Chairperson and General Manager Dolindra Prasad Sharma.
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday directed Sajha Prakashan to submit its financial records for the last five years as it begins a probe into suspected embezzlement by Chairperson and General Manager Dolindra Prasad Sharma.
The state-owned publishing house has also been charged with failing to conduct its annual audits. It has been asked to provide a list of its high ranking officials who served during the last five years.
Sharma has been charged with depositing funds belonging to Sajha Prakashan in his personal bank account besides being accused of nepotism. Sharma has been accused of selling 9,000 copies of different books published by Sajha Prakashan in London and pocketing the income.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has formed a three-member committee to probe irregularities at Sajha Prakashan. The panel consists of Ganesh Dhakal, under-secretary at the ministry’s Monitoring and Evaluation Section, Resham Sigdel, under-secretary at the Law Section, and Sunita Khanal, accounts officer at the Department of Education.
Currently, Sajha Prakashan has outstanding loans totalling Rs630 million. Last year, the government gave the debt-ridden enterprise a grant of Rs300 million including Rs100 million to repay its debts. National Cooperative Bank has foreclosed on the land put up by Sajha Prakashan as collateral for defaulting on its loans. Meanwhile, PAC members have accused Sharma of hiring excess staff on contract basis at a time when the enterprise was going through a financial crisis. “Sajha has recruited 71 employees unnecessarily, most of whom are Sajha chief Sharma’s near and dear ones,” said lawmaker Bharat Shah.
Lawmaker Dimple Kumari Jha said Education Ministry officials may have been involved in financial irregularities at Sajha. “The ministry has been continuously providing financial support to Sajha even though it has not conducted an audit for the last several years,” Jha said.
Sajha Chairman Sharma has also been accused of awarding a book printing contract to a private company owned by a member of his family. “Instead of printing books on its own, it had it done at a private company at a high price,” Jha said. This is not the first time that Sajha Prakashan has been accused of being involved in financial irregularities.
In 2011, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) probed
the enterprise for inflating the cost of constructing infrastructure.
In 2012, Mamata Jha, the then chairperson of Sajha Prakashan, was accused of spending Rs70 million in government grants in violation of the organisational mandate.