Rs Three billion is the amount misappropriated in Nepali Army. And Generals still claim this is a professional organization and boys still feel they are being cheated.
It was good to see Nepali Army holding a press conference to clarify some of the “misconceptions” regarding Army Welfare Fund but we could see generals lying at some points. First, contrary to their claims, the Fund is NOT transparent. The army has said that it will furnish all the details about the fund as demanded by a recent Supreme Court order. Good. After so many (13 to be specific) refusals to act on the SC orders, the army has finally decided to play by the rules. A welcome move but just saying it is transparent in front of reporters never makes Nepali public to believe them without any doubt. What we have been hearing is crystal clear: the soldiers in UN missions abroad are not getting the salary as per the agreement between the world body and the Nepali Army. That’s the main point. Solders are not happy, that’s the most important point. “Although the fund was supposed to have regular audits of its transactions, this has never happened ever since the fund was set up 30 years ago,” the Supreme Court order said, adding, “The fund has been run in a non-transparent way.” Rs 3 billion, the generals have accepted, is the total misappropriated fund! To make soldiers feel that they are not being cheated by their organization is the major challenge for the Nepali Army leadership. Boys feel they are being exploited for no good reason. That feeling must be removed once and for all as we are heading for the democratization of the national army. Boys must feel they are part of the organization.
Nepali Army leadership must keep this in mind: the organization needs an overhaul in the way it has been operating itself. It’s no more loyal ONLY to one person in town. As it was said in the press conference, Prime Minister is the supreme commander of the Army and prime ministers in this country are democratically elected. The current one has the peoples’ mandate that is no less authoritative than the election itself. Yes we, the civilians as they call us, perfectly understand that there are certain rules in militaries everywhere in the world. Militaries by nature are undemocratic when it comes to the chain of command etc but that doesn’t mean people can’t question the way THEIR institution is being run. Money is the key everywhere and funds must be transparent. They can’t just say oh this is the mater of national security or such kind of reasons. That’s what they have been doing in the past when the SC ordered for 13 times. With this planned response to the court, the army must start making its financial transactions and activities transparent. Transparent, by the way, in a real sense.
From today’s press meet:
Director of Army Welfare Fund Kumar KC claimed that the fund was completely transparent in all its dealings and that all funds had been audited. During today’s press meet, an hour-long video footage depicting activities of the fund, including details of the income and expenditure was also shown. KC said that the fund, established in 1975,had accrued a total of Rs 10.06 billion of which there had been misappropriations amounting to Rs 3 billion. According to KC, out of a total of Rs 7 billion on misappropriations, details of 3 billion had been clarified and that of 1 billion about to be clarified, leaving 3 billion as the total misappropriated fund. A majority of the misappropriated amount falls under salaries taken in advance.
Clarifying that no part of the funds has been deposited in foreign banks, the NA during the meet stated that all funds were deposited in the various commercial and cooperative banks in Nepal that yield an annual interest of Rs 400 million. Likewise, the funds invested in various schools, universities and hospitals yield Rs 20 million annually. According to the NA, a sum of Rs 320 million is deposited annually into the fund at the rate of 12 percent out of the total payment of services.
A joint bench of Supreme Court Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Damodar Sharma last week had issued the order against a writ petition filed by former army personnel some five years ago.
The welfare fund is created from partial deduction of the perks and benefits received by NA personnel during their service under the UN Peace Keeping Force. The court also concluded that the operation of the fund was non-transparent. Following the court order, the NA has to make public the money collected ever since the fund was set up. The government has been sending NA personnel on UN Peace Keeping Operations since 1972. The writ petitioners had claimed that NA senior officials misappropriated from the fund, which, they claimed was collected by deducting more than half the regular payments received during their service abroad.
Although the petitioners had demanded that the money, deducted from their payments, should be returned to the army personnel concerned, the court order hasn’t mentioned anything in this regard. The petitioners had also urged the court to study the NA welfare fund statute and the agreement signed by the Nepal government with the UN regarding Peace Keeping Operations, including the forms filled out by army personnel while being sent on UN missions. According to the recently amended Army Act, only up to 12 percent of the total payment for service in UN missions can be deducted. (source)