Exclusive: Corruption Unmasked: Government Officials, UN Agency in Nepal Procurement Scandal

Kathmandu, Nepal – In a groundbreaking investigation, Swasthya Live exposes a shocking pattern of alleged corruption within Nepal’s health sector, raising serious concerns about the involvement of government officials and a trusted UN agency, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

The exposé alleges a deliberate shift in tactics by Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) officials to evade anti-corruption prosecution. Previously scrutinized by Nepal’s Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), sources allege officials are now channeling essential medical equipment purchases through UNOPS, allegedly to obfuscate procurement trails and extract bribes.

UNOPS: A Trojan Horse?

Documents obtained by Swasthya Live reveal high-ranking MoHP officials exploiting a loophole to siphon funds through UNOPS. This agency, known for its neutrality and transparency, is allegedly being used as a conduit for corrupt practices.

The investigation centers on a World Bank loan secured during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster Nepal’s healthcare infrastructure. The documents show Dr. Dipendra Raman Singh, the then-Director General of the Department of Health Services (DoHS), bypassing competitive bidding procedures and awarding the loan disbursement contract directly to UNOPS.

Further investigation reveals a potential abuse of this sole-source contract. Documents indicate UNOPS procured PCR kits at a staggering $9.85 per unit, costing Nepal a total of $985,000 (123.125 million Nepali rupees) for 100,000 units. However, the government independently purchased the same kits at NRs 122 per unit, totaling NRs 12.2 million – a discrepancy translating to a staggering NRs 110.9 million overpayment for PCR kits alone.

Similar discrepancies are alleged in RNA extraction kits, with UNOPS allegedly purchasing them at $2.15 per unit, costing NRs 13,437,500 for 50,000 units, while the DoHS obtained them for NRs 54.24, spending NRs 27,120,000. This represents an additional NRs 10.7 million in questionable spending by UNOPS.

A Web of Greed

The investigation points towards a potential network of corruption involving key figures. Komal Karki, the Nepal Country Manager for UNOPS, and Charles Rochford Collan, overseeing operations in South Asia, are named on the UNOPS side.

On the Nepali side, Dr. Dipendra Raman Singh and Dr. Ramesh Kharel, the former and current DoHS Director Generals, are implicated for their alleged roles in awarding contracts to UNOPS without proper due diligence or competitive bidding.

These individuals, along with others potentially involved, are accused of manipulating the loan disbursement process for personal gain. Sources within the DoHS allege that UNOPS may have deducted over 15% of the loan amount as “management expenses,” further enriching those involved.

Experts Warn: A Disturbing Shift

Experts warn that this case, if proven true, represents a troubling shift in corruption tactics. Leveraging the perceived legitimacy of UN agencies to bypass national oversight could have devastating consequences for Nepal’s healthcare system and the responsible use of loan funds.

The public deserves a full accounting of these allegations. The CIAA is urged to act swiftly and decisively to investigate these claims and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

क्याटेगोरी : समाचार

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