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KATHMANDU, July 6 (Reuters) – Nepal’s Finance Minister Janardan Sharma resigned on Wednesday after the parliament speaker ordered an investigation into allegations of tampering in the budget.
Opposition parties and some lawmakers in the ruling center-left alliance accused Sharma of inviting “unauthorized persons” to make changes in the rate of some taxes in the federal budget just a day before he unveiled the spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year. . He denied any wrongdoing.
“Unauthorized persons” refer to persons outside the government who do not have the legal power to amend the budget.
“I am resigning to help the investigation,” Sharma told lawmakers, adding that he was ready to face the investigation because he had done nothing wrong.
“I am ready to face not one but thousands of investigations.”
Pressure on Sharma also mounted after the finance ministry said CCTV footage from the day the alleged budget changes were made was not available.
Parliament Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota gave the multi-party 11-member inquiry panel 10 days to investigate the opposition’s allegations.
Sharma, a former Maoist rebel leader, was involved in the removal of central bank governor Maha Prasad Adhikari in April, accusing him of leaking sensitive financial information to the media. The Supreme Court later reinstated Adhikari.
Nepal, a landlocked country between China and India, is facing a rise in inflation after rising prices of crude oil and other imported goods, while also facing a decline in its foreign exchange reserves.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government banned the import of luxury goods until mid-July to curb capital outflows as foreign reserves fell to about $9 billion – enough to last the country for about six months.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Writing by Manoj Kumar; Editors Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones
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