July 1: The government has decided to change some provisions of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Bill (3rd amendment) following a strong protest from the country’s private sector. The decision came after the government faced a sharp criticism from various quarters of the society for provisions in the Bill to bring the business community into the purview of CIAA.
According to the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM), the bill will not be moved ahead in the current state and will be sent to parliamentary committee once the provisions are changed. “The Office of the Prime Minister is ready to change the institutional monitoring of the private sector. The Bill will be brought back soon to make necessary changes,” a source at OPMCM told New Business Age. Chairman of the Legislative Committee under the National Assembly Parshuram Meghi Gurung also admitted that there are changes being made in the proposed Bill. “As the Prime Minister himself is in favor of the amendment, the bill is unlikely to be passed in its current state. Informal discussions have been held with the OPMCM in this respect,” he said.
According to Gurung, the Legislative Committee is in favor of removing provisions to bring companies such as bank and financial institutions, insurance companies, medical colleges and related hospitals, other universities or colleges, and public limited companies under the purview of CIAA by publishing a notice in Nepal Gazette. “We are preparing to amend the bill in a way that the CIAA will be allowed to investigate suspicious industrialist instead of the whole organisation,” he added. Addressing the 17th annual general meeting of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) on June 29, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that the bill could be amended as there are already many regulatory bodies that monitor the private sector and CIAA is not necessary in this regard.
Earlier, the bill provided that the CIAA could investigate any person holding any position in a company, authority, board, medical college, hospital, bank or any other institution which is entirely or partially owned by the government.The private sector of Nepal has been vehemently opposing the bill. The businesspersons met the Prime Minister and senior leaders of the opposition party to put forward their disagreement as soon as the legislative committee approved the bill that was sent to the NA.
Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and CNI issued their joint press released saying that the four points in the bill should be rectified and one point should be scrapped. They said that companies that do not have government investment should not be defined as public organisations. Likewise, they have demanded to remove the provision of allowing any company to define as a public organisation, by publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette.
Even six years ago, the then government had proposed that the CIAA be allowed to investigate corruption in the private sector. However, the provision could not be implemented due to the strong opposition of the private sector.