KATHMANDU: Though the law of the land says all those holding public posts — from the President to a helping staff — must furnish their updated property details within 60 days of assuming office or within 60 days of a new fiscal year, the most powerful executive body — the Council of Ministers — has failed to do so.
Thirteen Cabinet ministers of the Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai-led government have defaulted in making public their property details. Prime Minister Bhattarai himself is no exception.
Only Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Badri Prasad Neupane have updated their property details, according to the website of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. OPMCM Spokesperson Jagadish Regmi, confirmed the information on the website. The website (www.opmcm.gov.np) shows the prime minister and his 13 Cabinet ministers have not updated their property details. They have not declared asset details of their family members as well.
Section 50 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 2059 says ‘whoever joins a public office shall, within 60 days from the date of joining the public office, and whoever is engaged in a public office shall, within 60 days from the date of completion of each fiscal year, submit the up-dated statement of property in his name or in the name of his family members’.
An official at the National Vigilance Centre, an anti-graft body, expressed doubt as to why the ministers were dillydallying in submitting the details. “They had duly submitted their asset details after assuming office last year, why not this time?” wondered the official.
Interestingly, Ministers Anil Kumar Jha, Yadu Bansa Jha, Kumar Belbase and Eknath Dhakal seem to be too quick to submit the details. They furnished the statement of their property in Asar (mid-June to mid-July), but the law says they need to do so only after mid-July, not before that. When contacted, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Post Bahadur Bogati admitted that he was yet to furnish the details and attributed the delay to his busy scheduled. He pledged to do the needful in a day or two.
Spokesperson for the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Ishwari Prasad Paudel said the anti-graft watchdog will take necessary steps as per the law.