That the parliamentary commission of inquiry exonerated Janardan Sharma of the charges of tax modification, speculation is rife on his return to the head of the Ministry of Finance, a few days after his resignation.
Those in Sharma’s party, the CPN (Maoist Centre), who have long said he would return to take the job, have once again raised their voices that he must return.
The Maoist Center has yet to make a decision, but political analysts and economic affairs experts fear Sharma’s return to the finance ministry could be disastrous.
“I don’t know how much his return to the Ministry of Finance might affect the dynamics of the ruling coalition, but what I can tell you is that it will be bad for the economic health of the country, which is already in bad posture,” Rameshore said. Khanal, a former finance secretary.
“Dropping incomes, non-payment of payments such as wages and social security benefits, and rising inflation are major concerns that the current government is oblivious to.”
The parliamentary commission of inquiry, formed on July 6, submitted its report on Friday, clearing Sharma of all charges.
Sharma was accused of inviting two foreigners on the night of May 28 to change tax rates. He presented the budget to Parliament on May 29.
Many had doubted that the Inquiry Committee would actually find anything against Sharma on the day it was formed, as such House panels in the past have exonerated the accused rather than conducting real investigations.
Of the 11 committee members, four were from the main opposition party CPN-UML who wrote a dissenting note, but overall the report said there was no evidence to prove Sharma had done so. appeal to foreigners to change tax rates.
Most senior Maoist Center leaders who sit on the party’s Standing Committee say the party has not thought of an alternative to Sharma – no other leader has yet been proposed for finance minister. According to them, the party was waiting for the parliamentary commission of inquiry to present its report.
“The party has not yet thought of Sharma’s alternative to the post of finance minister,” said Pampha Bhusal, a member of the Standing Committee who is also energy minister in Sher Bahadur Deuba’s cabinet. “The party will make a decision to appoint him [Sharma] again soon.”
Another key Maoist Center leader Barshaman Pun, a former finance minister who is eyeing the post of party general secretary, told reporters on Friday that Sharma would return as finance minister unless he decides not to hold the post. this post.
Sharma’s role as finance minister had always remained questionable. He faced allegations that he was not doing enough to solve the country’s economic problems. In April, he even set up a commission to investigate Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari, which led to the latter’s suspension. Adhikari, however, returned to duty after a Supreme Court observation that there was nothing wrong with him.
Observers had said Sharma should have resigned or the ruling coalition should have sacked him after the court order.
Tax adjustments were the latest controversy Sharma found herself embroiled in.
Khanal, the former finance secretary, says if Sharma returns to head the finance ministry, he will make more attempts to flout the laws as he will have the support of the prime minister and his party.
“People will realize the effect of his return after five to six months, once their life becomes gradually difficult,” Khanal told the Post. “If he returns, it will mean the heights of moral degradation.”
Some observers say the point is not what the inquiry committee said, but rather the public perception of Sharma after the accusations against him.
“I do not believe that the report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry has contributed to changing the public perception of the alleged incident, because members of the opposition party did not agree with its conclusion,” said said Bhojraj Pokharel, a former election commissioner and good governance campaigner.
“Bringing the same person to head the ministry at a time when people don’t yet trust the technical exemption might be a matter of temporary political victory, but it would hurt the parties in the long run, politically.”
According to Pokharel, the parliament also failed to send the message that its investigation is fair and impartial because some panel members did not accept the committee’s conclusion, making the report controversial.
KP Sharma Oli, president of the UML whose four members of the House committee expressed dissenting opinions, raged against the report on Saturday.
“Why were the pictures removed and why did they say there were no pictures? Why was the committee formed with a majority of their [ruling coalition] members? A criminal act was in fact committed during the making of the budget. We attempted a fair investigation, but they [members of the ruling parties] did not allow it,” Oli said, addressing a meeting of the National Youth Association, a sister wing of the party, on Saturday. “If the report had to be prepared by a majority, it could have been done in Parliament itself. The people of Nepal should reject this report.
The 11-member committee each had two members from the Nepalese Congress and the Maoist Center, and one each from the CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party.
The Congress, the Maoist Centre, the United Socialist and the Janata Samajbadi are partners in the ruling coalition.
Hari Roka, a political economist considered close to the Maoist Centre, said the question now is whether to accept or reject the report prepared by a parliamentary committee.
“No one has questioned whether anyone has actually sent people to change tax rates… the irrelevant question is whether to accept the report of a committee appointed by Parliament,” said Roka at the Post. “I think not sending Sharma [to the Finance Ministry] after he was absolved would mean the loss of the party’s credibility and his own credibility.
According to him, there is no reason to be surprised if the Maoist party sends Sharma again and he is appointed Minister of Finance.
Achyut Wagle, an economics analyst who is also a columnist for the Post, agreed with Roka with one caveat.
“Yes, it will come as no surprise…at least to me, as I said publicly a long time ago…that the investigative committee will do nothing but acquit the accused,” Wagle said, who is currently in Geneva, at the Post. the phone. “It’s a moral question that our politicians need to answer.”