Govt approves criteria for foreign junkets

The government has finalized the criteria for foreign visits of president, vice-president, prime ministers, ministers, lawmakers and those holding public office with a view to doing away with unnecessary expenses.

A cabinet meeting on Thursday took the decision on the recommendation of a high-level committee led by Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Prem Rai.
As per the criteria, a foreign-bound team must limit the number of delegates to not more than 22. This applies to delegations led by head of the state, head of the government or any other top officials.

“The cabinet meeting approved the committee’s recommendation without making any major changes,” Minister for General Administration Lalbabu Pandit told Republica.

Secretary Rai said the committee has also suggested not allowing top officials to include any individual in the visiting team without purpose. “We have suggested implementing the criteria strictly as president, prime minister, ministers and other officials have been often found including their relatives or other near and dear ones during foreign trips,” said Rai.

Other major features of the government-endorsed criteria includes strictly barring ministers, top officials and all of those holding public post from joining any foreign trips sponsored by any I/NGO.

According to Rai, this criteria was included mainly with a view to discouraging the tendency seen in politicians and other government officials who often go on NGO-sponsored foreign trips and later claim travel and other allowances from the government.

“We found that a large amount of money has been misused from the state coffers. The criteria will end such anomalies,” he said.

Likewise, with the enforcement of new rules, top officials will not be allowed to accept any gift, souvenir and other items during various types of functions and ceremonies.

When it comes to offering any souvenir to foreign representatives by Nepal’s president, prime minister or any other top officials, they must get the list of items to be gifted approved by a committee led by the government chief secretary. They can present only Nepali items with the cost of each such item not exceeding Rs 10,000.

“We included this provision with a view to maintaining same standards in the gifts to be presented by Nepali representatives,” said Rai.

Source: MyRepublica