Kathmandu, March 26
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli who is on his week-long visit to China is leading a jumbo team with 60 official delegates along with 34 representatives from the business community. He is scheduled to return home via Chengdu of Sichuan tomorrow.
Although the state saved much on expenses for the trip with newly launched Himalayan Airlines offering a free-of-cost chartered-flight and the Chinese government paying all expenses for 35 official delegates, the visit cost the taxpayers some 15 million rupees.This is in stark contrast to the Sushil Koirala-led government’s policy of limiting the size of PM’s entourage during foreign trips to a maximum of 22 people.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tara Prasad Pokhrel told The Himalayan Times he had no clue about the amount allotted for PM Oli’s China trip. However, a top source told this daily that the government had sanctioned around Rs 15 million for the trip.
The amount was allotted as daily allowances for accompanying official delegates, gifts for Chinese dignitaries as well as hotel and other expenses for 25 officials whose expenses were not borne by the host.
Initially, the Chinese side had offered to bear expenses of only 11 officials. Later, it offered to bear the expenses for additional 25 officials, according to PM’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal. “Had the Chinese side not borne the expenses for 35 officials, the total expenses could have doubled,” said a MoFA official.
Former chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal told THT that the decision taken by the previous government to limit the size of PM’s entourage during foreign trips was not only meant to reduce state-expenses, but also discourage unnecessary delegates. “The prime minister can’t take unnecessary people on foreign trips. It’s a question of self respect. The host government does not take it positively,” said Paudyal.
Prime Minister Oli’s 94-member entourage includes four ministers, PM’s advisers and aides and bureaucrats and 13 lawmakers.
A version of this article appears in print on March 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.