Case filed at CIAA against Health Minister Dhakal

Bhanubhakta Dhakal

KATHMANDU, April 1: Bagmati Province Assembly member and Bibeksheel Nepali Dal leader Ramesh Paudyal has filed a corruption case against Minister for Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority accusing him of embezzling millions of rupees in the procurement of coronavirus emergency prevention and treatment equipment.

In the complaint, Paudyal has accused Minister Dhakal of canceling the procurement tender announced three months ago and awarding the contract to the unregistered company (at Department of Commerce) and businessmen close to him overnight, purchasing the medical supplies at an exorbitantly high price – four times higher than the market price and asked the anti-graft body to launch a thorough investigation into the financial irregularities.

He has also accused the ministry of purchasing WHO-uncertified rapid testing kits worth Rs 70 million.

The government on March 29 procured PPEs and other medical supplies worth 1.25 billion necessary to combat the coronavirus. The contract was awarded to Omni Business Corporate.

But, the health ministry came under radar after a Nepali businessman in Guangzhou Nabin BK, also a central member of the NRNA, wrote an open letter to Minister Dhakal accusing him of embezzling more than 4,540,000 USD while purchasing N95 masks, per testing kit, Ir thermometer, protective goggles, disposable gowns and other medical supplies.

Nabin BK listed some medical equipment and their government purchased price and market price.

The Chemical and Medical Suppliers’ Association also claimed the purchased price was much higher than the market price and raised question on sources and quality of medical supplies.

However, Spokesperson at the Health Service Department has ruled out committing any financial irregularities as the materials were purchased at “a bit higher price since the goods are in short supply globally at the time of pandemic”.