BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development is preparing to lodge graft cases against 18 local body officials of Dhanusha with the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority within a week.
According to a report prepared by the ministry, social security and development funds in some of the Tarai districts were hugely embezzled with the involvement of government officials.
A surprise monitoring team led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Narayan Kaji Shrestha visited Dhanusha, Mahottari and Siraha from August 19-21 following news reports on misappropriation of development funds in the districts.
The team had found that Dhanusha was yet to settle Rs 238.9 million advance bu-dget. Though VDCs and municipalities had submitted Rs 93 million to Dhanusha District Development Committee seeking to settle the advance budget in the last fiscal year, it was yet to be settled. The report said the amount was misused by local body staffers of Dhanusha.
Nine VDC secretaries and five other government officials involved in operating bank accounts in Dhanusha were recently asked to clarify. In addition, eight technicians, including engineers, were also asked to furnish clarification.
“Among 22 officials asked to furnish clarification, the ministry is filing corruption cases against 18 officials,” said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, spokesperson for the ministry. “These 18 officials have already been suspended from the job for two to three months for further investigation.”
Clause 64 of the Local Self Governance Act has provisioned that civil servants can be suspended for two months while Rule 233 of the Local Self Governance Regulation, has provisioned up to three-month suspension of local body employees. “If more time is required to complete the investigation, they can face an additional one month of suspension.”
Ministry officials hoped the cases will be filed by Friday. Dhanusha DDC has suspended 14 officials, including five technicians, seven VDC secretaries, two programme officers and two accounts officers, and the ministry has suspended engineer Laxmi Narayan Mahato and accounts officer Madan Mohan Lal Karna.
About Rs 12 billion is annually allocated for social security funds across the country with 75 districts, 3,915
village development committees and 58 municipalities. The government allocates Rs 1.5 million-Rs 3 million for development activities every year. MoFALD’s annual budget is worth over Rs 45 billion.