NC, UML spl panel members demand probe
Alleged PLA fund graft
KATHMANDU, SEP 04 - Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML members of the Special Committee on Monday demanded the government investigate alleged misuse of funds released by the government for former Maoist combatants and PLA cantonments since 2006.
In a meeting of the committee on Monday, they said the panel, as a constitutional mechanism to oversee the former combatants, should not remain silent on the alleged embezzlement.
The parties' position follows a UCPN (Maoist) decision to probe the allegations of irregularities at the hands of former PLA commanders and the Maoist leadership.
"It is the moral responsibility of the Special Committee to look into corruption in cantonments and among former fighters which it oversees," said NC leader and committee member Ram Sharan Mahat. "We suggested the Prime Minister that either the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority or an independent commission should probe the matter."
The UCPN (Maoist) has formed a panel led by its leader Post Bahadur Bogati to investigate the alleged corruption after former combatants raised the issue during the party's plenum in July. Mahat said the findings of the panel will not be acceptable.
The PM-led committee has decided to obtain details of the expenditure for the combatants and cantonments since November 2006 from the Peace and Reconstruction Ministry. "The prime minister is also not negative about it and he has said he is ready to hold discussions on the issue," Mahat said.
The Peace and Reconstruction Ministry maintains that it has spent over Rs 9.5 billion for the combatants and cantonments until the end of the last fiscal year.
Opposition parties have accused the Maoists of stealing millions of rupees from the state coffers that was meant for former PLA fighters who did not live in the cantonments.
They have been demanding a probe after more than 2,400 of the 19,602 combatants verified by UNMIN in 2007 did not show up in last year's regrouping process. Over Rs 260 million was released by the government in the last five years for food and monthly allowance for the 'deserters.'
In recent months, retired combatants have been demanding the Maoist leadership make public the status of the levy, Rs 1,000, collected every month from every combatant. Commanders allegedly confiscated pay cheques from the former fighters who opted for voluntary retirement last year. The agitating ex-fighters have claimed money collected from them was invested in various projects, including the Janamaitri Hospital operated by leader Janardan Sharma.
Meanwhile, the Special Committee on Monday instructed its Secretariat members to leave for cantonments on Wednesday to resume the integration process. An experts' panel will coordinate with the selection board led by the Public Service Commission to resume the process by Friday.
The committee has decided to pay the retirement package worth Rs 500,000 to Rs 800,000 at a single go to the combatants who switch interest from integration to retirement. Of the 3,123 ex-combatants aspiring to be integrated, those who will go for retirement will receive the cash package from September 12.
The committee has asked PLA commanders aspiring to join the Nepal Army as officers to gather in the HQ of the PLA's third division in Chitwan by September 11.
The Army will start the selection of officers in Shaktikhor from September 12, while the selection for lower ranks will start from September 7 in all cantonment sites, according to Secretariat member Deepak Prakash Bhatta.
The Special Committee has decided to award the second instalment of the retirement package to over 13,800 fighters between the Dashain and Tihar festivals. The cash distribution will begin from November 1 and end on November 10 at the district administration offices in the area where the seven main cantonments are situated.
Instead of Rolpa, pay cheques for combatants from the fifth division will be distributed by the Special Committee Secretariat at the District Administration Office, Dang.
Posted on: 2012-09-04 06:00