PM Oli's use of official residence for private event draws flak

Published On: September 8, 2018 06:10 AM NPT By: Biken K Dawadi

KATHMANDU, Sept 8: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, like his predecessors, has been widely criticized for using the prime minister's official residence at Baluwatar for the meetings of party committees and other non-official events. A gathering of the Oli clan has been scheduled at Baluwatar for Saturday.

The Oli Clan Revolving Fund has announced its annual general meeting at the prime minister's official residence at 10:30 AM, Saturday. The meeting will be run independently by the revolving fund .

Information officer for the program Shanti Ram Oli said in a notice on social media that anyone from the Oli clan who wishes to attend should reach the venue at the specified time, telling security personnel there about the purpose of the visit.

He added that the meeting is being held at Baluwatar for the convenience of the prime minister. “We are conducting the program at the prime minister's residence for security reasons,” he told Republica. “Also, it will be convenient for the prime minister to attend if the meeting is hosted at his place of residence.” The prime minister will arrive at the meeting at about 11:30 AM.

Following widespread criticism on social media that the prime minister's official residence should not be used for personal purposes, top level bureaucrats have also criticized the choice of venue.

Former home secretary Shreekant Regmi said if the prime minister uses the official residence for personal purposes it will be an abuse of power. “The prime minister's residence has been used for various party and personal meetings in the past, something bluntly criticized in various quarters,” he said. “The prime minister's official residence, which runs on taxpayer money, must not be used for any purpose other than the prime minister's official business.”

Regmi added that it is a matter of ethics. However, Prime Minister Oli's Press Advisor Kundan Aryal claimed that since the prime minister is also a private individual he can host such meetings inside his place of residence. “The event is not organized by the government. This is a private event, which the prime minister can hold in his personal capacity,” he argued. “Why can't he meet his relatives and other kin in a purely personal capacity?”

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