Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
PM encircled by corruption, Kantipur

On Sunday, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said: "It looks like the corrupt will finish us off." He went on to single out local government, development projects, labour, land reform, education, and health sectors as being specially graft-ridden.

The irony of it all was that he was giving a speech on the occasion of the international day against corruption, and he and his party lead all these sectors. Bhattarai himself heads the ministries of urban planning, energy, and agriculture. Maoist vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha himself is the minister of local development. The labour ministry is headed by Maoist secretary Post Bahadur Bogati, land reform is led by another Maoist leader, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and the education minister is also a Maoist, Dina Nath Sharma.

And the latest example of how there is illegal political interference in development projects is the prime minister's own urban development where he has appointed his sister-in-law as the head of the Kathmandu Valley
Drinking Water Pvt Ltd (KUKL). Bhattarai's wife, Hisila Yami is said to have put pressure on the Kathmandu and Lalitpur municipalities to put her sister, Timila, in charge of the state-owned company. Timila replaces Prayag Lal Joshi who was appointed to his post through open competition four years ago.

The energy ministry which is headed by Bhattarai himself has pushed through a controversial proposal to increase the capacity of the Upper Trisuli 3A project by 30 megawatts. This increases the project cost by Rs 4 billion and extends the time of completion by two years. Two reports by the NEA had said the capacity addition on a project that has already started construction is not feasible. Member of the NEA board, Krishna Dulal was removed for being against the proposal to increase the capacity of the project.

The most corrupt ministry is local development, mainly because there haven't been local elections for a long time and because political interference is rife. For being against transfers within the ministry, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister moved Sital Babu Regmi to the president's office. Land reform is also tainted, and the prime minister was responsible for appointing the controversial Nagendra Jha to the post of joint secretary. Jha is the same person who handed over Rs 800,000 to the wife of Hindu activist, Kashi Tiwari, who was murdered by Bhattarai loyalist Prabhu Sah three years ago. Education minister Dina Nath Sharma has also inducted into his team tainted Surya Gautam caught helping his own wife cheat in state exams.

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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)