The parliamentary special committee formed to investigate charges of budget tampering against former finance minister Janardan Sharma has concluded that unauthorized persons didn’t change tax rates in the budget for the current fiscal year.
“Entry of unauthorized persons in budget preparation cannot be established on the basis of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and statements of staffers, and hence change of tax rates as asked by them also cannot be established,” a member of the committee told Setopati about the committee’s conclusion.
The report has also mentioned so. It has also recommended to keep the record of those participating in the budget preparation process and their recommendations safe pointing that determination of tax rate is sensitive.
CPN-UML lawmakers in the committee put a nine-page dissenting opinion. Ruling lawmakers in the committee concluded that Sharma is innocent pointing that the evidence and statements collected do not prove that he is guilty while UML lawmakers were adamant that he cannot be deemed innocent on the basis of evidence and statements collected.
The 11-member committee has four members from CPN-UML, two each from Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center), and one each from CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party (LSP).
Chairman of the committee Laxman Lal Karna submitted the report to Speaker Agni Sapkota Friday afternoon.
Sharma was accused of inviting unauthorized persons to the Finance Ministry to tweak tax rates at the time of finalizing the budget on the night of May 28. He denied the allegations.
He courted another controversy when the Finance Ministry, responding to a right to information (RTI) request seeking closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage of the night before the budget presentation, said that it does not have CCTV footage of more than 13 days.
Sharma resigned on July 6 after the 11-member parliamentary committee was formed to investigate allegations against him.
The forensic lab of Nepal Police recovered the Finance Ministry’s CCTV footage of May 28 and May 29 but the footage could not establish entry of unauthorized persons in the Finance Ministry.
Forensic experts told the committee that the quality of the Finance Ministry’s CCTV footage had deteriorated as they had transferred the videos to multiple devices in order to check them.