The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has filed a case against Nepal Telecom Managing Director (NTC MD) Sunil Paudel, the incumbent Government Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini other high-profile figures totaling 9 in allegations of corruption in the National Payment Gateway system purchase.
The National Payment Gateway was acquired 6 years ago but has not come into operation yet. In the case filed at the Special Court, it’s mentioned that an unreasonable purchase amount was staged which constituted the government’s fund misuse. The payment gateway was bought at the cost of Rs 25 crores (Rs 250 million) under the planning of the then Executive Director of the National Information Technology Center (NITC), Pranita Upadhyaya, and others. It has also been argued that the system was bought without having the proper infrastructure in place for its operation.
Earlier, CIAA summoned the current Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal for a discussion. Aryal at the time of the system’s purchase helmed as the Secretary at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) and Chairman of Ntc’s Board of Directors.
In its study, CIAA has determined that there was corruption in the purchase of the National Payment Gateway system.
High-ranking Figures in Hot Water in Corruption allegation in National Payment Gateway System Purchase
In the subsequent developments, the Authority has lodged a case which comprises several prominent figures. The list includes Sanjay Sharma, former secretary and the then Executive Director of NITC, NTC MD Sunil Paudel, the Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Madhu Kumar Marasini, Current Deputy Director Safal Shrestha, etc.
In their planning, Marasini, the then Chief of the Budget and Program Division of the Ministry of Finance, allocated a budget of 250 million (Rs 25 crore) for the purchase of the National Payment Gateway. The system was not even on the list of the policy and program at the time. Additionally, the NITC had not sought a budget.
CIAA claims that no upper/lower agencies were informed about the steps to buy the payment gateway system.
Nepal Telecom welcomed its current MD Sunil Paudel in April 2022. However, his tenure has not remained free of controversies. But the latest corruption allegation could lead to his suspension to ensure a transparent and fair investigation.
A Rs 25 crore embezzlement?
The government sought to establish an inclusive system for electronic payment. For this, NITC reached a deal with “CMA” on Ashar 19, 2075 which had to buy and install the system.
The National Payment Gateway System was estimated to cost Rs 24 crores, 75 lakhs, 22 thousand. CMA got the contract at Rs 24 crore, 42 lakhs with the duty to buy and install the system.
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