Nepal | July 02, 2020

Govt to bar officials from working for foreign agencies upon retirement

Jagdishor Panday
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  • Govt should also bar officials from clandestinely working as consultants for foreign agencies

Kathmandu, June 15

The federal government is all set to introduce a law that bars senior officials, namely secretaries and joint secretaries, from joining foreign diplomatic missions, offices of development partners, such as the United Nations, international non-governmental organisations and multinational companies based in Nepal immediately after their retirement.

The draft of the ‘Bill on Formation and Operation of Federal Civil Service, and Management of Terms and Conditions of Civil Service’ states that any secretary or joint secretary will not be allowed to join any foreign agency or company for a period of two years upon retirement.

The draft was formulated by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. It has been forwarded to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for consultation.

The government is introducing the law as many senior government officials started joining foreign diplomatic missions, INGOs and offices of development partners, such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, right after retirement. They mostly work as consultants.

“This leads to a conflict of interest, because officials try to please representatives of foreign agencies or companies while in office in the hope of landing a job upon retirement,” said MoFAGA Spokesperson Suresh Adhikari. “During this process, chances of officials sharing sensitive and classified information cannot be ruled out.”

Minister of Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit had previously tried to introduce the law while he was serving as the Minister of General Administration. But he could not.

“This time, he has been working on the draft since joining the office,” said Adhikari, adding, “The draft of the bill will be forwarded to the Cabinet and subsequently to the Parliament once the law ministry approves it.”

The concept of cooling period is a welcome step, said former chief secretary Bimal Koirala. “Many foreign countries have this provision too,” Koirala added.

Yet the draft includes a loophole which can be exploited by officials. These government officials can indirectly work for foreign diplomatic missions, offices of development partners and INGOs via consulting firms, NGOs or any other domestic company. Officials who have retired can easily circumvent the law by establishing a separate company or NGO to provide consultancy service to foreign agencies and companies.

“This loophole must be plugged,” said former secretary Bhim Dev Bhatta, adding, “The government should also bar officials from clandestinely working as consultants for foreign agencies while in office.”

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A version of this article appears in print on June 16, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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