The federalism devising three layers of governments in Nepal is often touted as the system to improve public service delivery with the guarantee of good governance. However, financial irregularities and corruption are rife in all three layers of government. It is substantiated by the media reporting on a daily basis. Even the periodic reports produced by the supreme auditing agency, Office of Auditor General (OAG), have made it clear that the irregularities are rampant.
In this regard, Freedom Forum awarded fellowship to seven journalists as part of audit accountability initiative to raise the issues of Users’ Groups at the sub-national level with focus on audit reports of the OAG, Nepal.
The fellowship program was further aimed at improving communication on audit recommendations, catalyzing relationships among various oversight actors including civil society groups, media, and legislators. With the investigative reporting, journalists have the capacity to build proper communication and information on how the activities at different levels miss the objective, thereby deviating from due process of good governance. The issues as activities of the users’ groups, transparency, and corruption within the groups, elite capture, nexus of government employee and users’ group etc are pressing matters, which need to be brought to limelight for wider discussion and debate.
The journalists representing print and online media sought such maladies and pointed out the lack of public participation in decision-making group. The news brought forth with the fellowship showed corruption at local levels particularly in the name of road developments. Two articles on users’ group and local representative’s capture of users’ group were published by the journalists along with other investigative stories in the subject.
A total of 14 stories including two articles were published in various platforms. For example, five stories were written by Bhagwan Khanal and published in Karobar daily which is a prominent financial daily in Nepal. Similarly, dainiki.com; sthaniyakhabar.com; nepalwatch.com; onlineradionepal.gov.np; sarangkotnews.com; Bimarsha weekly are other media covering the stories and the OAG reports.
FF had made an open call on Facebook and Twitter for the journalists to participate in the fellowship program. The selection of these participants were done by Audit Accountability Team based on journalists’ experience and passion, fellowship work history and the subject they selected for reporting. Mr. Taranath Dahal mentored for the fellowship program to support and guide selected participants. The fellowship was awarded by freedom forum with support from International Budget Partnership as part of ongoing Audit Accountability Initiative.