Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Bankrupt Corp.

Hari Prasad Shrestha, director general of the Nepal Timber Corporation, has pocketed a large sum of money by selling off the corporation's land in Bhaktapur. He sold much more than was actually sanctioned for sale by the government. The corporation owns 13 ropani, nine anna and two paisa [approximately 0.68 hectares] of land in Bhaktapur. The government had approved the sale of seven ropanis [0.36 hectares], following which tenders were invited, and it was decided to sell that land at Rs 1.8 million per ropani. But the director general cancelled the tender and arranged for a notice to be published on 25 May this year. He then published a notice for the sale of land that the government had not decided to sell. The second tender fixed a price of Rs 1.6 million per ropani. The corporation lost Rs 200,000 per ropani-more than Rs 3.5 million in total.

Ram Chandra Bhatta, director of the corporation's Supply Department, is close to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and was also involved in a controversy, this one regarding the sale of timber at the corporation's branch office in Hetauda. A tender notice was issued by the central office regarding the sale of timber in Hetauda on 5 September. Realising the competition, Bhatta got into cahoots with businessmen and contrary to the best interests of the corporation, decided not to sanction the 55 tender notices sold by the central office and the 28 notices sold by the corporation's branch in Hetauda.

The management committee of the corporation decided, on 3 May this year, not to mention the lot numbers for sale, fearing that such knowledge would give rise to irregularities. But the Hetauda office flouted the decision and published the lot numbers. A management committee meeting on 23 August decided to reverse its decision and publish the lot numbers and sell land so it could pay workers' salaries. This was Director General Shrestha's doing. But Shrestha has also challenged the management committee's earlier decision by cancelling the files of 100 lots involving 6,000 cubic feet of timber on 27 August. Bureaucrats are amazed by his opposing actions. On 2 September, the corporation called for a tender to sell 6,000 cubic feet of timber at the corporation's Bardghat office. Since there was no competition, the branch head recommended that the central office cancel the call. But seeing a chance to earn commissions, Shrestha and Bhatta are threatening that the branch head rectify the note, says a source in the timber industry.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)