Monday, July 3, 2017

Fiscal year end junket of government officials cost country dearly

The fiscal year end junkets of the government employees cost the country billions.
Most of the government officials have already embarked on study and observation tours to foreign countries and remaining are packing their bags spending over billion of the taxpayers’ money.
According to a Finance Ministry official, the foreign junkets in the last months of the fiscal year could cost over billion to the government exchequer. The bill includes over 1,200 trips of civil servants since last 2 months. "But the visits made to India have not been counted."
Though some visits from India to European destinations – including field trips, exposure visits, study tours, familiarisation and observation tours – were sponsored by organisers, most of the travel bills have been paid by the taxpayers' money, according to the official.
Government officials get between $150 to $200 in travel and daily allowance depending on their designation. According to existing provision, government secretaries get $200 in allowance for day, while joint-secretaries and under-secretaries get $175 and $150 respectively, the official insormed.
However, the allowance could be much higher, in case of a trip is sponsored by big donors and multilateral agencies. UNDP provides a minimum of $350 per day.
Four teams from Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry including secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari and joint secretaries Suresh Acharya, Ghanashyam Upadhyay and Bharat Mani Subedi – totaling to 30 officials – have left for Poland, Pakistan and other countries, leading separate delegations from the ministry today, though the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) team is visiting Nepal for a safety audit of the country’s aviation sector last evening. Likewise, director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Sanjiv Gautam has already left for a week-long Myanmar tour, while the two-member ICAO team began air safety audit today,” according to CAAN.
Similarly, Ministry of Agriculture Development has also forwarded a proposal to the Finance Ministry for its approval to send at least 95 – including 60 ministry officials – on a study tour to East Asian countries. Agriculture secretary Suroj Pokhrel and joint secretary Kashi Raj Dahal have already left the country to attend international seminars, a ministry official informed.
The Finance Ministry has also approved foreign tours of over 50 officials. According to a record, at least 33 officials have already left for China, Belgium and USA, while 13 have been waiting for tickets to fly to European countries.
Yet another ministry that has sent its employees to the foreign junket is Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. Some 21 officials of the ministry are already on a visit to the Philippines and Cambodia last month.
Likewise, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya returned from a 10-day tour to London today, while another joint secretary from the ministry has already embarked on a tour of Indonesia.
Senior officials have embarked on foreign trips at a time when the Parliament has also been holding ministry-wise budget deliberations. It is mandatory for secretaries and senior officials of the concerned ministries to be present for budget discussion during the House debate.
Though the government has restricted foreign junket, the attraction of civil servents seems not to be decreased due to also good travel allowances. The government had, in 2015, introduced a policy to discourage such visits, but it could not deter the civil servants from making all-paid trips to foreign lands.

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