Parliamentary committee formed twice in past after budget was leaked

A parliamentary committee will be formed to investigate on Finance Minister Janardan Sharma over allegations of bringing unauthorized persons to the ministry at the time of finalizing the budget to change tax rates.

An understanding has been reached to form a parliamentary probe committee following discussion among Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other leaders Tuesday evening, according to a Baluwatar source, and the committee will be formed Wednesday itself.

Such parliamentary committees have been formed twice in the past when the budget was leaked before it was presented in the House when CPN-UML leaders Bharat Mohan Adhikari and Bishnu Paudel were finance minister.

The then Constituent Assembly Chairman and Speaker Subash Chandra Nembang had formed one when Kantipur daily published the budget before it was presented in the House by Adhikari in 2011 when Jhala Nath Khanal was the PM.

The committee led by the then Nepali Congress (NC) chief whip Laxman Ghimire also included Ramesh Lekhak and Hridayesh Tripathi. NC leader Lekhak told Setopati that the committee submitted its report recommending preventing measures to stop such leaks in the future.  

Similar committee was again formed five years later when the budget was again leaked before it was presented in the House when Paudel was finance minister in the KP Sharma Oli government. Lekhak led the probe committee that time but the committee did not complete investigation as the government was changed soon and Lekhak himself became a minister in the new government.

“Such incidents have happened even in the past. Parliamentary probe committees were formed when such incidents happened in the past. There is delay in formation of parliamentary committee this time,” Lekhak added.

He pointed that both Adhikari and Paudel refused to resign during the investigations and called out hypocrisy of UML lawmakers for seeking resignation of Sharma now.

Ruling NC, however, is putting pressure on PM Deuba to sack Sharma if he does not resign even after a parliamentary probe committee is formed despite the precedent of defiance by UML ministers in the past.

NC General Secretary Gagan Thapa and Vice-president Dhan Raj Gurung have publicly stated that the allegations should be investigated and Sharma should resign or be sacked.

Another NC Vice-president and PM Deuba’s confidant Purna Bahadur Khadka has also called for parliamentary probe of the incident.

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