Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Mao, Inc.

Multi-purpose cooperatives, poultry-farming, pig-rearing and media outlets are among the ventures Maoist cadres have invested in to successfully generate income and become self-reliant. The Maoist party is the first in Nepal to have invested in business through affiliated groups such as the YCL and student groups.

Maoist leaders themselves have invested in a range of ventures. But it is difficult to obtain particulars of such investments. The reason for this is the party's long-standing rejection of the notion of private property. Accordingly, the assets of all party members belong to the party itself, and no leader or cadre is allowed to invest for personal profit. However, it is rumoured that despite the sanction, many party members have invested secretly in business. The possibility has stirred up debate within the party.

The question of investment by party leaders was raised at the last central committee meeting. A committee was formed under the leadership of Mohan Baidya for the express purpose of investigating the matter. The 15-point code of conduct that was made public thereafter states it thus: "If central committee members are found guilty of corruption or are using the party's name to secretly raise funds it will be treated as a serious crime and dealt with severely."

It is not difficult to conclude that such a blunt statement can only be the result of actual misdemeanours on the part of leaders or cadres. What is more, when the investigative committee allowed a grace period of 15 days for party members to declare their assets, more than 250 cases were lodged with the committee by party members at all levels, Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal included. This shows that secret investments are rife within the party.

According to sources, the Maoists have invested over Rs 10 million in Mirmire FM alone, almost Rs 50 million on a fleet of over 300 cars, and about Rs 45 million in the party headquarters in Koteshwor. The party has also invested
Rs 40 million in its flagship Martyrs Memorial Cooperative Organisation in Sindhupalchok district. When Baburam Bhattarai was Finance Minister, over Rs 10 million was made available to this cooperative by the government. The deposit of Rs 32 million for Balaju's Janamaitri hospital was drawn from government payments intended for PLA temporary camps, according to a source. Total investment in this hospital now stands at Rs 330 million.

The debate on the involvement of leaders in such ventures continues. Maoist politburo member and YCL in charge Kul Bahadur KC says he too has heard the rumours of financial dealings by party leaders and admits this is why the investigative committee was set up. Echoing the 15-point code of conduct, he warns, "If anyone is found to have invested for personal profit then it will be taken as a serious crime and will be severely punished."

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)