Corruption watchdog tells government to either terminate sick contracts or speed up construction worksAs many as 1,848 contracts related to seven ministries worth a cumulative Rs118 billion have been found to be sick
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has asked the government agencies either to terminate public construction contracts identified as chronically sick or carry out construction works immediately.
A study report ‘Status of the contract management of the construction works under the Nepal government and Analysis’ unveiled in January, identified 1,848 contracts worth Rs 118 billion related to seven ministries as sick. Of them, 1,032 contracts of various construction projects had remained idle without extension of their deadlines.
The contracts were considered sick because they were not completed even after their completion deadlines expired before December 2017, with some having remained idle for as far back as nine years ago.
“Considering the huge public money invested in the various construction projects, we have asked the government agencies to either terminate chronically sick contracts or take ahead the construction works immediately,” said Pradeep Koirala, a spokesperson for the commission. “The contracts whose deadlines have been extended several times, but where the progress has remained 10 percent to 20 percent should either be terminated or the construction works be speeded up immediately.”
On December 1, the anti-graft body sought details about contracts terminated since mid-July 2017 and the documents related to a decision regarding financial settlements of such contracts within 10 days.
The commission has also given a certain format for reporting where the government offices should mention the name of the project, time when the contract was signed, contract amount, valuation of the works when the contract was terminated, government office’s liability to the contractor, the liability of the contractor to the government agency, amount received by the government agency and efforts made by the government office to recover public money from the contractor.
“Such details were sought in order to examine whether the government agencies took steps toward terminating the contracts in line with our advice,” Koirala said. “We are also keeping an eye on what actions the government agencies took.”
The CIAA has also been investigating into chronically sick contracts in which evidence of irregularities have been found. “Around 100 such contracts are under detailed investigation of the commission,” said Koirala.
The anti-graft body, which used to focus on investigating into graft cases and suspicious property in the past, has now started prioritising development projects whose implementation has remained poor due to a number of factors, including alleged corruption. It has filed corruption cases in the court against government officials and contractors involved in some of the development projects in recent years.
In October last year, the commission filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Pappu Construction owner and lawmaker Hari Narayan Rauniyar and his son Sumit Rauniyar, along with 10 government officials and consultants for building a substandard bridge over the Babai river in Jabbi Ghat, Bardiya.
Likewise, in December last year, the anti-graft body filed another corruption case against Bikram Pandey, former minister and owner of Kalika Construction, along with 20 government officials and consultants for the substandard construction and repeated collapses of the main canal in the Sikta Irrigation Project.