New directive on diplomatic protocol issued

Kathmandu, July 3

A new directive issued by the government stipulates that office-bearers and employees of provincial and local governments shall have to obtain approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to meeting foreign representatives.

For the purpose of obtaining such an approval, the agenda and schedule of the meeting shall be sent in writing to the MoFA, which will decide on the request within 15 days, states the directive.

It also requires the office-bearer or employee concerned to send a concise report of the meeting with the foreign representative to the MoFA.

However, the new directive has riled top officials of provinces and local levels.

Chief Minister of Province 2, Lalbabu Raut and Minister of Internal Affairs and Law of Gandaki Province Hari Bahadur Chuman told THT over phone that the directive would censure provincial governments’ effort to attract investment in their provinces and carry out development projects.

“It is okay if sub-national governments are required to seek permission from the federal government before signing any deal with foreign representatives, but that should not mean that provincial governments cannot hold initial rounds of dialogue with foreign representatives without the MoFA’s permission,” Raut said. He added that the new directive reflected the federal government’s aversion to decentralisation and federalism.  Raut said the directive indicated that the federal government did not trust provincial governments.

Chuman said provincial governments should not be required to take the federal government’s permission even for conducting feasibility or pre-feasibility studies on projects that could be run with foreign assistance or loan. “Provinces should be required to have the federal government’s permission only for signing the final deal with a foreign representative. This directive will adversely affect  provinces’ development efforts,” he added.

The directive also stipulates a provision requiring any office-bearer or employee of the province to obtain approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to making a foreign visit in the course of official business.

According to the ‘directive published in the Nepal Gazette earlier this week, office-bearer refers to the chief minister, minister, state minister, assistant minister, provincial speaker, deputy speaker, provincial assembly members and chief attorney. This provision shall be applicable even in a case where any office-bearer wishes to travel abroad at the invitation and sponsorship of development partner.

“The concerned office-bearer or employee of the province shall also correspond with the host country, foreign mission or international organisation through the MoHA compulsorily. S/he shall communicate to the Nepali mission abroad and involve its representative as far as possible while holding a meeting with foreign representative during their foreign trip,” the directive adds.

It bars the visiting officer-bearer or employee of the province from making or accepting any international commitment that will be chargeable on the country. S/he shall have to express views that serve best interest of and uphold self-esteem of the nation as per its foreign policy during their foreign visit.

The directive also strictly prohibits any remark against the country’s foreign allies, and regional and international commitment made by Nepal. “The office-bearer or employee of the province shall consult the MoFA, Nepali mission abroad and other concerned agencies for contents and views of Nepal to be presented during a function or meeting to be held in a foreign country,” states the directive. After the completion of foreign trip, the office-bearer or employee shall submit its report to his/her concerned office and provide a copy thereof to the MoFA.