Futile missions

By all accounts, people are getting the impression that ministers and secretaries in the government service lose no opportunity to avail foreign trips. As a matter of fact, most of them appear to be preoccupied with them and they even consider such junkets to be part of their job to attend seminars organized by INGOs. But, according to those privy 50 per cent of the foreign visits of secretaries and ministers were unnecessary. This situation must not be allowed

to continue for the ministers and secretaries appear to be going on such junkets which a resource crunched country like ours can ill afford. As is often the case now, as soon as ministers are appointed

and assume office one of the priorities seems to be to go on foreign trips. It is also known that there is intense competition amongst ministers and secretaries to go on these junkets. Moreover, it is found that the same person goes on one foreign trip after another instead of giving others in the same ministry a chance to do so.

Another revelation is that the primary decisions taken by the cabinet of ministers these days is approving foreign visits by the ministers. This is not to say that the ministers and secretaries are not entitled to go abroad to attend seminars and the like, but their visits should have relevance. As is often the case, this is not so. The ministers should instead be doing something constructive for the country and their countrymen instead of squandering scanty resources and valuable time in junkets. If the visits are fruitful then, of course, the ministers should undertake such visits in the course of serving the country. We find that most of the visits are led by ministers and secretaries and their

visits are sanctioned by the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister which possess the authority to do so. It is also found that these visits are approved without assessing them, so the ministers and secretaries are continuing to embark on trips at the expense of the national cofers that serve no useful purpose.

However, it must be said here that one of the reasons why the government service entices many is the opportunity it affords to travel abroad. The common man finds it difficult to travel at his/her own expense. Among the various government ministries, certain ministries afford more chances for their staff to go on junkets. Here again it should be emphasized that the visits are alright if they serve the purpose, but they should not be mere pleasure trips. Therefore, it is essential that a

mechanism is developed to assess if such visits have relevance and accrues benefits in some way or other to the country. Since the decision is made at the

high level, the Prime Minister should act in a responsible manner while approving the visits as the Chief Secretary cannot scrap proposals of such visits. For their part, the ministers and secretaries should not abuse their post by going after unnecessary foreign visits, and they should be more responsible to the country and people and travel abroad only when their duty and job demands it and not to make their post a platform to go on trips just for the fun of it at the nation’s cost.

Hooting matter

When it came to poaching and trafficking animal organ and parts, the image of a tiger or rhinoceros would automatically spring into the mind. The lack of publicity maybe the reason why many people do not have an idea as to the other animals, birds, reptiles, insects, fish, etc. that are on the endangered list and nearing extinction. The case of the Eurasian Eagle Owl is a case in point as has been reported in this daily. It has been “pushed to the brink of extinction”. This is a sad case of inadequate attention given to their protection. The law may have all the tough words against poaching and smuggling of such living creatures, but the laxity of the enforcement of the legal provisions has been a grievous misfortune for the unique and diverse wildlife of Nepal.

The lucrative trade in such exotic owls has flourished because of the ease with which the illegal activities can be carried out. There also have been reports of political influence being used to get the poachers released for free even if they fall into the hands of the security personnel. Political commitment and strict enforcement of the legal provisions are a must to save our natural wealth in the form of flora and fauna.