Sudurpaschim Province spends a major chunk of its budget on buying vehicles for people’s representativesAn activist claims that local units are purchasing vehicles for the sake of commission
Most of the local units in the Sudurpaschim Province have at least one vehicle for the municipal chief, one bulldozer, one tractor for goods transportation, and motorcycles for ward chairpersons. The budget spent in the procurement of government vehicles runs in millions in the current fiscal year.
The local units are not only spending money on buying vehicles at exorbitant prices, but on buying fuel and repairing the vehicles as well.
Out of the 6,000 kms of road stretch that opened in the hill districts in the last two years, only 25 percent is motorable, which raises questions on the usefulness of the vehicles purchased.
“In the running fiscal year, various local units have spent more than Rs 50 million on the purchase of petroleum products alone,” said a petrol pump owner in Dadeldhura. “Local units have used fuels worth Rs 20 million this year.”
“The accumulated transaction is much more than that,” he said. Vehicle sellers said that local units are also demanding commission on the purchase of vehicles.
“One of the local units demanded more than Rs 500,000 as commission while purchasing 10 motorcycles,” said a motorcycle seller who preferred anonymity. “I could not bring myself to make fake bills so I stopped supplying motorcycles completely.”
Officials at the local units have been keeping mum on the subject of vehicle procurement and transactions with local suppliers and petrol pumps. “We don’t have any information. Administrative Officer and people’s representatives know more about the procurement of vehicles,” said Siddharaj Bhatta, acting executive chief of Ajayameru Rural Municipality in Dadeldhura. The municipality is on its way to purchase two jeeps for public service.
Dan Bahadur Chand, a campaigner against corruption in Dadeldhura, said that local units are purchasing vehicles for the sake of commission. “The local units keep a huge margin for commission and pocket the extra money they make while purchasing government vehicles. Procurement of vehicles has become an income-generating tool for the people’s representatives,” Chand said.
Belauri Municipality in Kanchanpur recently purchased a jeep for Rs 5.6 million, even though the municipality had purchased a jeep only four years ago. Additionally, the municipality has purchased 10 motorcycles for the ward chairpersons.
“We have purchased the vehicles so that our everyday work becomes easy,” said Chhabilal Nepali, chief administrative officer at Belauri Municipality.
However, the government vehicles, in many instances, are used for purposes other than official—for wedding functions and personal usage.
In Kailali, the local units spent more than Rs 100 million in the purchase of vehicles within the last two fiscal years. The local units have purchased Scorpio jeeps for chiefs and deputy chief, and motorcycles for ward chairpersons. All of the 13 local units allocated Rs 300,000 to Rs 20 million for the purchase of vehicles in the running fiscal year alone.
Bir Bahadur Budha of Chure Rural Municipality said that a majority of wards have no road access. “There is no motorable road in the area, but ward chairmen of all local units have demanded for motorcycles,” Budha said.