An entrepreneur’s open letter exposes the rot in Nepal’s Office of the Company Registrar: Who will hold it accountable?

Connivance between the top bureaucrats and politicians is a reality across the country. But Nepal lacks credible institutions to investigate corruption allegations and malpractices.

Office of the Company Registrar. (Photo: Wikipeda)

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: On January 28, Rudra Raj Pandey, Founder and Chairman at Deerhold, Ltd, drew the attention of the Office of the Company Registrar through an open letter posted on his Facebook wall. ‘Government of Nepal, Office of the Company Registrar,’ he addressed, adding in another line, ‘in other words, the office of the corruption registrar’ indicating how corruption is deeply rooted in that government agency. 

The primary duty of this office ought to be to support and serve entrepreneurs, wrote Pandey. “It should welcome those who reach there with the dream of initiating ventures. The office should have a culture of completing the work of service seekers and make them feel upbeat with good gestures of thank you and Namaste.”

This was a prelude to the story of how setting up companies in other countries becomes a matter of encouragement while doing so in Nepal is full of frustrating experiences. 

I have set up companies in various countries including in the US, Japan, India and Singapore, Pandey wrote. “I could set up companies in these countries without hurdles, without having to bribe a single penny to any officials. After the registration of the company, they sent me letters of congratulations with words of thanks and encouragement.”

Pandey then shared how frustratingly difficult it is to get similar jobs done in Nepal. He wrote that if we approach the Office of the Company Registrar in Nepal with a similar purpose we have to bribe the officials. “We have to pay a bribe from the beginning, including from choosing the name of the company,” Pandey shared his experience. “Officials demand bribes claiming document mismatch and in other pretexts.” 

Initially, he refused to pay the bribe money, trying to live up to the precept of Late King Prithvi Narayan Shah that those who bribe and those who receive it are the enemies of the nation. “But I was in the US and nobody listened to me in Nepal. Leaders just laughed at me and got away with the matter and the secretaries pointed to the problem documentation process.”

These days even my people pay the bribe money to the Office of Company Registrar, Pandey wrote. “I can’t help crying about this situation of the country. But who shall I complain to? Where shall I complain? From the court to the ministry, all are looking for bribes.”

Pandey further wrote that when the officials of OCR come to read his note they would give further trouble to his managers. “I know the high-level officials at OCR will give further troubles to my managers after reading this note. But I have come to millions of Nepalis who are also going through the same feeling of injustice through this note on social media. How long should we bear with this injustice?”

Pandey has written that probably there are officials at OCR who do not take bribes and his note is not meant for them.

Pandey has asked all those who face hassles at the OCR to share their stories. Pandey ended the note by drawing the attention of the Ministry of Industry which is under the Prime Minister of Nepal. “If anyone from the Prime Minister’s Office and Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) want to know the detailed story, I can give the names. I could not do much for the country, but I can at least do this much [give names].”

The note of Pandey has been widely shared and many others have shared similar experiences of having to bribe the officials to get the works done at the government offices. 

Pandey’s story is a common story of hassles that service seekers face when they have to get things done at government offices.  Unfortunately, however, there are no institutions  where the service seekers can knock to complain of the wrongdoings. 

Ministry assures actions 

When asked why the people are subjected to hassles at the company registrar office, Dr Narayan Prasad Regmi, Joint-Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, said that the government does not tolerate bribery and corruption. “Bribery and corruption are not acceptable under any pretext,” he told Nepal Live Today. “It will be easier for the ministry to take action if the case is formally lodged.”

“It should be noted that the government alone cannot ensure good governance without public support,” he said, adding that the service seekers can also file complaints through an appropriate mechanism.