Govt bans officials from taking up sponsored trips

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 30, 2018-The government has introduced a provision prohibiting its officials from taking up foreign trips under the sponsorship of firms that have secured government contracts. The provision was made to avoid any potential conflict of interest, officials said.

The Foreign Visit Management Directive, endorsed recently by the Cabinet, prohibits nomination of any government officials for foreign trips under the sponsorship of contractors or consultants securing government contracts.

The government will send the officials on foreign trips with its own resources if special skills, training are required to ensure implementation of the projects, the directive states. 

The trend of going on foreign junkets under the sponsorship of contractors and consultants still exists today, albeit at a lesser degree, according to officials. “Such visits must be stopped completely to ensure the policymakers are not influenced by the contractors and consultants,” said a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office.  

Welcoming the government’s decision to curb on such foreign trips, former secretary Tulasi Prasad Sitaula said it would go a long way in avoiding conflicts of interest. 

“Such practice was rampant until a decade ago, but it has come down considerably in the recent years,” Sitaula said, recounting handling such cases during his time at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority in 2003-04. 

Pointing out that the trend of officials taking up foreign junkets under the sponsorship of non-government organisations is still rampant, Sitaula said the directive remains mum on the matter.

As per the directive, the team taking up a foreign visit should submit a report about its achievement and action plan to utilise the things learnt aboard within 15 days of such visit. The officials failing to submit such report will be barred from taking up another trip for two years.

The government officials working in remote areas, at local and provincial levels should be prioritised for foreign trips, according to the directive. “Officials, who fail to go on a foreign trip without any valid reason after being nominated, will not be nominated for another foreign trip for at least two years,” it says.

A prior approval of the Foreign Ministry is mandatory for visits related to bilateral and multilateral meetings, annual and periodic meeting of sub-regional, regional and international meetings. 

Delegations attending such meetings are required submit a report to the Foreign Ministry and the respective line ministries after completing their visits. Such report should also be updated on the website of the agency concerned. “The government should not send anybody for foreign meetings if Nepal’s mission could represent the country at such engagements,” it says.

Officials, participating in meetings abroad, should prepare the country’s official position on certain issues only after consulting with the Foreign Ministry. “Nobody should present opinion that goes against Nepal’s constitution, laws and policies,” it says. 

Published: 30-04-2018 06:03

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