2 ministries in turf war over meet preps

  • donor conference
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
2 ministries in turf war over meet preps

Jun 16, 2015-

A serious turf war has erupted between the Finance and Foreign ministries over the management of the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction-2015 slated to be held on June 25.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) is miffed at the Finance Ministry for its “unilateral” approach to the donor conference. According to Foreign Ministry officials, they were not taken into the confidence while sending invitations to foreign dignitaries for the meet.

The Finance Ministry has already sent out invites to 60 nations, donor agencies and development partners through its International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division.

“We believe all foreign correspondence, invitations and logistics should be routed through the Foreign Ministry which has not been the case,” said Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey. “Some donor agencies and ambassadors have asked us why the invitations were not sent through our ministry. We need to understand that foreign missions are understandably protocol-conscious.”

Citing Diplomatic Code of Conduct-2011, MoFA officials said their participation and approval is a must for such a high-level event.

They argue that concurrence of the Foreign Ministry will have to be obtained before inviting foreign government counterparts and other guests to visit Nepal.

But Finance Ministry has a different take. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that there were no such differences between the two ministries over the preparations. “The Foreign Ministry has been fully involved in the preparations for the conference. The foreign secretary and senior officials from the ministry are in the preparation committee,” said Mahat.

According to Mahat, when it comes to coordinating issues related to foreign aid, it is the Finance Ministry that deals with donors.

“Hence it is the Finance Ministry’s responsibility to extend invitations for the conference and we did exactly that,” he said, adding that the MoFA has also sent some of the invitations.

Referring to the new Foreign Aid Policy, Finance Ministry officials said all correspondence related to foreign aid and grants will be made by their office and that it would be a lead agency.

“It’s an international practice that coordination with the donor community is made through the Finance Ministry. Have you ever seen any foreign minister or secretary signing foreign aid or loan agreements?” said a senior Finance Ministry official.

The lack of coordination between the two key ministries has put donors in a fix. MoFA officials said they have been receiving inquires from Kathmandu-based donor agencies about the procedural matters, protocol issues and correspondence related to the conference.

“We have been asked ‘what does high-level participation mean?’” said a MoFA official, citing the term used by the Finance Ministry in reference to the conference. “We have been telling them [the donors] that high level participation means that of ministers or higher-ranking officials.” Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has also been asking the donor community for “high-level participation” in the conference.

Two senior officials from the Kathmandu-based donor community told the Post that the donor conference is very much driven by the Finance Ministry rather than the Foreign Ministry. According to them, since the donor conference is taking place at a short notice, the possibility of donors making “big pledges” appears slim.

“A number of donors have told us that time is short for their preparations as the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report was not available on time,” said Pandey. The government plans to provide its PDNA report to Nepal’s development partners and the international donor community ahead of the conference.

donor conference

We believe all foreign correspondence, invitations and logistics should be routed through the Foreign Ministry which has not been the case

Mahendra Bahadur Pandey

Foreign Ministry has been fully involved in preparations for the meet. The foreign secretary and senior officials from the ministry are in the preparation committee

Ram Sharan Mahat

Published: 17-06-2015 07:57

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