Kathmandu: Nepal’s Finance Minister Janardan Sharma was forced to resign from the post after the government yielded to the pressure to form an all-party parliamentary probe committee to go into the “budget leak” allegations on the eve of its presentation in the House six weeks ago.
Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota announced the formation of an 11-member all party committee that will probe the allegation that Sharma discussed the budget and the taxation policy for fiscal year 2022-23 before it was to be presented in the Parliament in the presence of two people representing private business groups at his office on May 14.
There were speculation that the tax proposals were changed at the last minute to suit three or four business houses on the direct intervention of Sharma. Pressure on him has mounted after the finance ministry said CCTV footage from the day when the alleged changes in the budget were made was not available saying “it was not available as it has crossed the 13-day time limit of preservation.”
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had been under pressure to sack Sharma if he did not quit voluntarily. Later, he held a meeting with Maoist chief Prachanda, Sharma and Purna Bahadur Khadka. “Although Sharma was against resigning, he was given no other choice,” a senior Minister said.
The terms of reference of the probe committee is yet to be announced but there are demands, at least from the main Opposition that the end beneficiary of the “budget-gate”, including senior officials and the business houses, should be also be probed.