Budget leak: Nepal’s Finance Minister quits after Parliament Speaker orders probe

Nepali Finance Minister Janardan Sharma resigned from the post on Wednesday after the government bowed to pressure to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry commission to get into the “budget leak” allegations on the eve of their six-week presentation in the House of Representatives.

Parliament Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota has announced the formation of an 11-member all-party committee that will investigate the allegation that Sharma discussed budget and tax policy for the 2022-23 fiscal year before it was presented to Parliament in the presence of two people. Representation of private business groups in his office on May 14.

There is speculation that the tax proposals were changed at the last minute to suit three or four business houses over Sharma’s direct involvement. Pressure mounted on him after the Finance Ministry said CCTV footage from the day the alleged budget changes were made was not available, saying “it was not available because it exceeded the 13-day filing deadline”.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has come under pressure to dismiss Sharma if he does not resign voluntarily. Last night he had a meeting with Maoist leader Prachanda, Sharma and Purna Bahadur Khadka. “Although Sharma was firm against resigning, he was not given another option,” a senior minister told the Indian Express.

The terms of reference of the investigation committee have not yet been announced, but there are demands, at least from the main opposition, that the ultimate beneficiaries of the “budget gate”, including senior officials and business houses who have sent their representatives to a minister, should also be investigated.

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