Fake contractors: ‘consumer teams’ in Nepal seize improvement tasks to depart them substandard and embezzle funds

Fake contractors: 'user groups' in Nepal grab development projects to leave them substandard and embezzle funds

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The institution of “user groups” in Nepal was seen as a superb factor. When it began, it helped to hold out varied tasks within the communities. Projects that have been left in limbo have been accomplished expeditiously by these consumer teams and have been additionally appreciated by the communities. But, just lately, issues have been totally different as these consumer teams that have been created to assist native communities are working solely for the good thing about the teams and their members, embezzling funds and Taking on tasks that they don’t have the capability to undertake.

According to knowledge offered by the Commission, the Office of the Auditor General and the National Vigilance Center to probe abuse of authority, consumer teams, going towards the stated guidelines, have just lately spent a median of over Rs 15 billion. These well-intentioned teams have now been poisoned by authorities officers, political activists and even MPs.

above the legislation and past their capability

Public procurement professional Rajendra Prasad Adhikari says that political events and their staff are controlling these consumer teams as they consider these teams is usually a good money cow for the folks and the celebration.

“The Public Procurement Act provides for awarding projects to user groups to generate employment. It clearly states that they have to engage in manual labor and not be involved in projects that require heavy equipment and machinery,” says the official. “But, these groups have been involved in almost all kinds of projects: from building a small canal to building a building that the law doesn’t allow.”

The legislation permits getting concerned in tasks equivalent to repairs and small tasks. To facilitate this, the federal government provides lakhs of rupees to those consumer teams. But some consumer teams are losing taxpayers cash by going towards the Act.

Another public procurement professional Suresh Pradhan says the Public Procurement Act doesn’t enable tasks to be handed over to consumer teams.

“The Act promotes competition. It does not allow projects to be handed over to anyone,” he says. “These consumer teams have been allowed to finish tasks as much as Rs 35 lakh in that starting. The quantity has been elevated to Rs 10 crore. This has occurred because of political pursuits.”

Pradhan says a few of these consumer teams are outsourcing work to contractors to finish tasks. “We have noticed that bills are being introduced by certain user groups who prove that they are using contractors. The law does not allow this,” he says, including that some consumer teams are appearing like pretend contractors and dealing towards the legislation.

Pradhan says that some teams are usually taking cash from the federal government, which isn’t allowed as per the legislation. Some have additionally been discovered giving work to contractors near them.

Experts say that varied kinds of irregularities are taking place within the consumer group. From creating consumer teams disobeying all guidelines and rules to spending cash with out following due course of, the modus operandi of consumer teams is being questioned over the previous yr.

“I have heard that the government is spending around Rs 20 lakh on the selection process. These groups have been infiltrated by political parties,” says the official.

Fake committees and pretend payments

There have been many such incidents within the monetary yr 2019-20 which throw mild on this situation.

In 2019, in defiance of assorted guidelines, folks created pretend consumer teams. For the street gravel undertaking, a pretend consumer group was fashioned in Agniseer Krishna Savaran of the agricultural municipality Saptari. The group used photocopies of citizenship certificates of officers of the Mutani River Irrigation Project to acquire the undertaking, the place about Rs 25 lakh was embezzled. Former MLA BP Yadav; The case concerned Raj Kumar Goit, the top of Siraha Infrastructure Development Office, and Hari Narayan Mandal, the then central member of the Rashtriya Janata Party. The CIAA had filed a corruption case towards him within the particular court docket on January 15, 2020.

Apart from pretend consumer teams, one other downside that’s troubling the federal government is the pretend payments introduced by reputable consumer teams. In 2019, a committee of Sambhunath Municipality-1 in Saptari launched a invoice after finishing restore work in a discipline close to Khand Khola. But, the invoice turned out to be pretend.

The committee bought a cost of Rs 275,623 with out doing any work. This matter got here to the discover of the folks after the criticism was filed within the CIAA, after which a case of corruption has been registered towards the engineer of the district technical workplace, Bikash Shrestha, vice-chairman of the district’s sports activities improvement committee, Dhirendra Verma, the then administrative officer of the committee, Mahendra. Prasad Yadav, and the chairman of the consumer group, which was entrusted with the restore of the soccer discipline, Buddhi Lal Yadav.

File picture: Office of the Auditor General

disobey the principles

As per the Public Procurement Regulations, consumer teams can not use bulldozers, excavators, rollers, graders, bitumen distributors, bitumen boilers or any heavy equipment as these teams are paid to pay for the guide labor of the folks concerned within the undertaking . But, within the monetary yr 2019-20, consumer teams used heavy equipment for about 2,288 tasks from 246 native ranges, costing the state round Rs 2.01 billion.

User teams are thought of ineligible to make use of the equipment as a result of they don’t have the talents required to finish the undertaking, as acknowledged within the rules. But, within the monetary yr 2019-20, 80 native models created round 1,280 consumer teams for building of buildings, bridges, overhead tanks and rural electrification tasks, spending a complete of Rs 3.94 billion. The guidelines state that consumer committees can solely work on tasks as much as Rs 10 million. But, in 2019-20, 62 native governments executed tasks in extra of the ceiling.

divide and rule

Projects which may have been accomplished by means of the tender course of are additionally being awarded to consumer teams. These tasks are divided into totally different components in order that it’s eligible and given to totally different consumer teams.

An motion plan drawn up after the 2015 earthquake states that some building work of native infrastructure of public significance could also be undertaken by consumer teams. However, a building undertaking was divided into eight components and handed over to totally different consumer teams by the Bhaktapur Municipality.

The Kathmandu metropolitan metropolis is not any totally different as it’s splitting up tasks and handing them over to its chosen folks. In 2019-20, town authorities handed over 970 tasks to varied consumer teams spending round Rs 859 million within the course of.

violation of norms

The norms talked about within the Public Procurement Act appear to be forgotten when tasks are awarded to consumer teams. Kamla River Control Project was awarded to a consumer group with out following correct norms concerning district fee.

As per the principles of the District Rate Committee, the price of one cubic meter of stone for Dhanusha was Rs 2,444 and that for Siraha was Rs 2,000. However, the speed committee accepted a finances of Rs 3,010 per cubic meter for Dhanusha and Rs 5,156 per cubic meter for Siraha and mobilized consumer teams. The Kamala River Control Project spent round Rs 110.76 million within the monetary yr 2019-20 utilizing 47 consumer teams. This goes towards all of the norms within the Public Procurement Act.

User teams carry out advanced duties

All three ranges of presidency are working with consumer teams to execute advanced tasks. Experts say that a few of these tasks are infantile and unprofessional.

A undertaking was given to Hapur Drinking Water Users’ Group for ingesting water administration at Rupandehi. It bought round Rs 1.14 million to finish the undertaking with out correct research. The committee couldn’t extract the water and the cash spent on the undertaking was wasted. The same instance will be seen in Ilam, Morang and Kaski the place advanced ingesting water and sewage tasks have been assigned to consumer teams.

Tax exemption

There have been many circumstances by which consumer teams haven’t paid tax after committing. According to the Income Tax Act, a consumer group incomes greater than Rs 50 lakh has to pay 1.5 % earnings tax. But, the Office of Water Supply and Sewerage Management, Kasky waived off the tax of Rs 3.16 million.

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Fund Development Board labored with varied consumer teams, spending round Rs 250 million. But, in line with consultants, a lot of the consumer teams don’t also have a PAN quantity. In some circumstances, the board doesn’t even have proof of expenditure.

uncertain bills

Over the years, consumer teams have grow to be a automobile to fulfill the allotted finances. The Office of the District Commissioner of Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, Bhaktapur on July 8, 2020 proposed to award tasks value Rs 300,000 to six.5 million to 65 consumer teams. The commissioner of the authority, Bhai Qazi Tiwari, instantly accepted the proposal.

Within per week of approval, greater than Rs 20 crore was spent in Bhaktapur. When requested the place such an enormous quantity went throughout the monsoon, the authority officers refused to reply.

In the monetary yr 2019-20, the district commissioners of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur commissioned a complete of Rs 535.06 million for tasks undertaken by 163 consumer teams. According to the KVDA, this cash was used for the development of roads, partitions, sewage and for the safety of public locations. But, a supply says that the KVDA didn’t present any clarification as to why the consumer teams have been chosen for the particular undertaking. Consequently, KVDA has been accused of nepotism.

Suspicious illustration in consumer teams

The guidelines state that the job that requires essentially the most labor ought to be given to consumer teams. A gaggle should make public the variety of folks it’ll use earlier than receiving the undertaking. But, this isn’t taking place.

The sub-metropolitan metropolis of Kalaiya deserted tasks that had solely 4 per cent of the labor power, whereas a settlement was reached for 10 per cent. There have been related fates in varied provincial tasks the place agreements have been disregarded when finishing tasks. The Bagmati Province Tourism Development Project gave a complete of Rs 115 million to 95 consumer teams. The proportion of labor power used was not made public.

The major objective of consumer teams is to make use of native folks to start out a undertaking of their locality. Even although the principles clearly state that consumer teams can’t be mobilized to purchase issues, through the years, consumer teams have been created to buy merchandise as properly.

The ingesting water and sanitation places of work at Sarhali and Rupandehi have been utilized by consumer committees to buy issues, in addition to two places of work which have used Rs 440 million to buy plumbing and different objects.

As talked about above, consumer teams can solely be supplied tasks as much as Rs 10 million. But, in 2019 the Province 2 Development Office gave over 200 million rupees to 18 consumer teams to finish the tasks. Similar examples will be present in Bagmati and Lumbini provinces.

The high quality of labor executed by consumer teams is usually questioned. Also a lot of the consumer teams don’t full the work on time. Up to Rs 420 million was spent on varied tasks in Province 1. Even after the completion of those tasks, their high quality examine is but to be executed.

Advances are given to consumer teams with out following due course of. The guidelines state that consumer teams can obtain just one third of the entire quantity as an advance. Ignoring this, varied municipalities throughout the nation are giving advances as much as 60 %. The most up-to-date annual report of the Auditor General states that an quantity of Rs 590.1 million is but to be settled in 2019-20.

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Source: OnlineKhabar

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