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No irregularities in COVID-19 related procurement, says PM

Kathmandu:Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the expenses made by the government in quarantine management, food, medicines and health supplies are transparent.

He was responding to queries raised over the headings of the National Planning Commission, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Office of the President and the Vice-president during deliberations on Appropriation Bill, 2077 at the National Assembly meeting today. “Things will become clearer after an internal audit and by the Auditor General’s office,” he said. On the occasion, Prime Minister also reiterated that he would not indulge and neither allow anyone to indulge in corruption. Action will be taken against anyone found involved in financial irregularities. He said that the government was fully aware of the impact caused by the lockdown on mental health, employment and income, and said that the government was working to give the helpless and poor the feeling that the government is with them at this time of crisis.

The Prime Minister also pledged action against those involved in the Rukum west mass murder and the incident of rape against a woman in quarantine, which he described as a blot of human being. Stating that the government was committed to realizing the national aspiration of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’, Prime Minister Oli said lately new achievements were made in terms of nationality. “It has proved that it is not possible to do injustice upon Nepal and divide the Nepalis,” he added. High immunity power behind lower mortality rate Prime Minister Oli has said that Nepal witnessed very low mortality rate due to the treatment protocol Nepal adopted in the treatment of the coronavirus infected and their immunity power. Citing reference that the consumption of commonly found edibles in the kitchen could enhance immunity power, he said some so-called knowledgeable people have made fun while suggesting domestic ways for boosting immune power. Presenting the data of the death from coronavirus, he said, “There is 0.7 percent mortality in every one million population. It is comparatively lower than many other countries of the globe”. As of Wednesday, the death toll from the virus has reached 20 in Nepal. Informing that there was very nominal mortality particularly caused by COVID-19 among the deaths, he said the number of death was reported slight higher while adhering to the criteria of the World Health Organization for the same. Nepal has witnessed gradual increase in the number of people with coronavirus infection with the rise in the repatriation from India, he informed that the total COVID-19 infected has climbed to 7,177. As many as 5,990 infected are being treated while 1,167 have recovered and returned home from hospitals. The Prime Minister further shared that PCR and RDT tests have been so far performed among 383,315 people. Nepal is ahead than other South Asian countries except Bhutan in regard to the coronavirus test coverage, he claimed. Though the cases are increasing day by day, he said, adding the transmission has not been seen in the community. “We had to face the flood of repatriation beyond our capacity”. As many as 275,000 Nepali citizens repatriated from abroad in three months spanning from mid-March to mid-June this year, the Prime Minister shared, adding the bulk entrance from India has created trouble in the management of quarantines. “As many as 12,657 Nepali citizens entered Nepal from India during mid-March and mid-April; 11,749 during mid-April to mid-May and 241,862 during mid-May to mid-June”, he informed, adding the government has widened the testing coverage with the rise in the number of returnees. Stating that the pandemic has killed thousands of people across the world, he said, “None had preparedness to fight the infection in the first place. We were well-prepared when the virus was fast spreading across the world. So our efforts in controlling the infection to some extent have paid off.” On rescue efforts of those Nepalis stranded in foreign countries due to the pandemic, he said, “There is not such ease to bring them in. For that, various arrangements should be made. However, we are rescuing them and this will continue. Those to be rescued should get tests for the infection. Some people reached Nepal without tests, which is against the guidelines of the World Health Organisation.” A total of 1,117 Nepalis were rescued from various countries between June 3 and 15 and have been quarantined in Nepal, he said. On Millennium Challenge Corporation, Stating that there has been rumours and bad publicity about it, PM Oli urged people not to follow rumours surrounding it. “What is included in MCC agreement. I would urge all to go through it. There is no meaning in following rumours about it.” Denouncing the rumours doing rounds that the American military was coming to Nepal, the PM said, “We should not go by the rumours. The tendency to run after rumours is irrelevant.” He curiously asked “Are people bothered about development works that are going to take place here or are they bothered about foreign aid coming in bulk?” Reaffirming his commitment towards nation and national interest, PM Oli said that his nationalist stance was always there, irrespective of him holding the highest post of the country. The PM also estimated that COVID-19 curve would reach its highest pinnacle by mid-August and would begin to go downward by September. Calling for observing precaution while celebrating upcoming festivals such as Dashain, Tihar, Chhat, he warned that there was always a risk for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases if we don’t maintain alertness while coming together in a group. Furthermore, to prevent and control the pandemic, he assured that more quarantine facilities would be set up and the existing ones would be further streamlined as more and more Nepalis abroad were coming home. Oli also clarified that the government had not allocated inappropriate amount of budget for the Office of Prime Minister and said there was no point in exaggerating anything about the Prime Minister’s office. As for the huge amount of expenses incurred during prevention, control of the COVID-19 and treatment of the infected one, the PM justified that all the expenses were rightly incurred and was spent over all in-line agencies. The Head of the Government also spoke of the need to enabling the COVID-19 infected persons mentally since, he argued, the infection had taken a mental toll on many of them. On a different note, the PM shared that efforts were underway to resume teaching learning activities for the children across the country including those from Mugu and Siraha district for whom the 69-year-old PM had provided patronage for their education.

“The government has commenced e-learning through online, radio and television for the students since June 15,” he said, expressing concern over those students who were out of reach of internet and television as well as radio. According to him, the government had aimed to make Nepalis students competitive citizens and it was taking whatever measures it would take to achieve this goal. He also expressed his displeasure over the derailment of the government’s plan to achieve cent per cent literacy in the country next year and said that it would be delayed by one more year due to the COVID-19 and its impact.

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