Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth has assured construction project contractors that the government would no longer arrest them for non-performance or under-performance, informed people on both sides said.
Mahaseth’s assurance comes at a time when Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has been taking action against such contractors, arresting some of them in various parts of the country.
At a meeting of the Construction Business Development Council that he chaired on Friday, Minister Mahaseth told contractors that action would be initiated against non-performing and underperforming contractors in line with the terms of contract. The meeting was convened at the contractors’ request.
“The minister told contractors that there would be no arbitrary arrests. He asked contractors to notify him in cases of arrest,” said Rajendra Raj Sharma, spokesperson for the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT). “Our minister also made it clear to them that nothing would stop the public entity from taking action against erring contractors on the basis of contract.”
The Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal also confirmed the developments in a statement on Sunday. Mahaseth’s remarks run parallel to the demand of contractors. The contractors want action against the firms in line with the contract agreement and the Public Procurement Act. The measures include fining, confiscating security deposit, terminating contract and blacklisting. The Home Ministry maintains that its actions are specified in the Local Administration Act.
“When the people are troubled by non-performance of contractors, the District Administration Office has the right to take action against troublemakers in accordance with the Act,” said Home Ministry Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi.Asked about Mahaseth’s remarks, Subedi said the Home Ministry acts as per the laws. A senior MoPIT official told the Post last week that the Home Ministry had not consulted with it while taking action against the contractors. The MoPIT is responsible for mobilising large resources for development projects.