PMO, Ministry in row over relief from foreign units

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

May 24, 2015-

Two government entities--Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs--have clashed over seeking the details of relief resources collected or donated by Nepali missions abroad. Two separate instructions from the PMO and the ministry have put the embassies in a state of confusion over whom to report.

An email sent on Friday by Subir Khanal, political adviser to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, asked the missions to update him on the collection on a daily basis. “We stress zero tolerance against corruption and urge all to report to the Prime Minister’s Office,” he stated. A senior diplomat told the Post: “Our clear  mandate is to brief all our activities to the Foreign Ministry in almost all cases. But who will be responsible if we are punished by any of the two agencies for not abiding by their instructions?”

Khanal’s correspondence has irked the ministry, which accuses him of breaching the official channel of communication. The ministry immediately sent its email to all the diplomatic missions asserting that it is the only official channel to report. If necessary, it would brief the PM and his office on the matter.

This episode also highlights the rift between the two organisations. Since PM Koirala represents the Nepali Congress and the ministry is headed by UML leader Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, varied working styles have often created confusions in the past in policy and execution. “We need to re-energise our missions,” Khanal said when asked why he issued separate instructions. “After 1990s, we had set a tradition of receiving direct updates from our missions abroad,” said Khanal, adding that the updates are necessary for planning the budget. Besides, the PMO coordinates the Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund where most of the collections are deposited.

“The separate instructions have put our missions in a dilemma,” said Tara Pokharel, spokesman for the ministry, reiterating that the Foreign Ministry is the official channel for them to report. The ministry said Khanal’s email is personal so the embassies abroad have no obligation to follow the instructions. The ministry said a person cannot supersede the authority of the institution.

Published: 25-05-2015 06:57

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