• MoCTCA wore a deserted look when a validation mission from ICAO paid a visit

Kathmandu, July 4

With the fiscal year coming to an end, government officials have embarked on study and observation tours to foreign countries spending millions of rupees of the taxpayers’ money.

Most officials holding non-gazetted first class to secretary-level positions have already left Kathmandu for foreign shores, while others from a few ministries will fly overseas in the next 10 days, according to sources in the ministries. An official at the Ministry of Finance estimates that foreign junkets in the last month of the fiscal year can cost over Rs 50 million to the exchequer.

Four teams of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation comprising Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari and joint secretaries Suresh Acharya, Ghanashyam Upadhyay and Bharat Mani Subedi left for Poland, Pakistan and other countries, leading separate delegations from the ministry today, as recorded in the MoCTCA’s administration division.  “At least 30 MoCTCA officials have gone abroad in the last three days.”

Interestingly, MoCTCA wore a deserted look when a validation mission from the International Civil Aviation Organisation arrived here for a safety audit of the country’s aviation sector last evening. “Director General at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Sanjiv Gautam went on a week-long Myanmar tour while a two-member ICAO team began air safety audit today,” a CAAN manager told THT.

The Ministry of Agriculture Development has also forwarded a proposal to MoF for its approval to send at least 95 persons, including 60 ministry officials, on a study tour to Asian nations as early as possible.  According to MoAD records, Secretary Suroj Pokhrel and Joint Secretary Kashi Raj Dahal have already left the country to attend international seminars.

MoF approved foreign tours of over 50 of its officials in the last fiscal month.  According to a record at the ministry’s administration section, at least 33 MoF officials have already left for China, Belgium and USA, while 13 have been waiting for tickets to fly to European destinations.

Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation sent a team of 21 officials to the Philippines and Cambodia last month. Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya returned from a 10-day tour to London today, while another joint secretary from the ministry has already embarked on a tour of Indonesia.

Senior officials have embarked on foreign trips at a time when the Parliament has been holding ministry-wise budget deliberations. Secretaries and senior officials of the concerned ministries must be present for budget discussion during the House debate, Chairman of the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee at the Legislature-Parliament Mohan Singh Rathore told THT.

Unlike in the past, officials this year chose to fly abroad rather than release millions of rupees to the sectoral development projects in the last month of the fiscal year, a senior official at the National Planning Commission told this daily.

Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi, who has decided to quit his post to take up a senior position at the Asian Development Bank in Manila in mid-July, however, refused to comment.