Minister Baskota resigns after bribe controversy

encroached public lands

KATHMANDU, Feb 20: Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota has resigned from his post.

His resignation comes hours after the leakage of a controversial audio recording of the conversation between him and a local agent of Swiss Company, in which the minister is heard negotiating for a share of commission with the agent in return for awarding the security printing press procurement contract worth Rs 25 or 26 billion to the company.

In the two-and-a-half-minute long audio conversation leaked by Hamrokura today, the minister and agent Bijaya Prakash Mishra talk about the MoU signing on the procurement of the security printing press for the government with Swiss Embassy representatives on Feb 23, which is followed by a negotiation for 70-30 percent share deal out of Rs 700 million gained from the procurement.

In the conversation, Mishra assures Minister Baskta of 70 percent share.

The minister is also heard using vulgar language toward the government officials as he tells Mishra to negotiate with government officials regarding the commission and the procurement.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Sapkota informed the parliament about Baskota’s resignation.

“I have been informed that Minister Baskota has tendered his resignation today. But I have not received any formal letter in this regard yet,” Speaker Sapkota told the House after the main opposition party Nepali Congress demanded that the government sack Baskota immediately.

“Since questions have been raised about me, I inform that I tender my resignation to the prime minister on moral grounds,” Baskota later tweeted.

The NC has also demanded a probe into the controversial audio clip and procurement process and asked Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli to answer to the House in this connection.