'Abroad trips by local reps a drain on taxpayers' money'

Published On: December 14, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

SURKHET, Dec 14: Recently, five elected local representatives of three local units in Surkhet district made a 15-day visit to Thailand, at the invitation of a non-governmental organization, TAO Association. They are now preparing to claim the travel expenses from their respective local units.

The local representatives who had gone for the tour are Chaukune Rural Municipality Chair Dhir Bahadur Shahi, Vice-chair Nirmala Rana, Lekbesi Municipality Deputy Mayor Shanti Chantyel, its Ward 8 chair Top Bahadur Tangami and Birendranagar Municipality-1 ward member Dambar Nepali.Lekbesi Municipality has already decided to reimburse the two-way air expenses of its deputy mayor and ward chair for the Thailand tour.

Ticket costs for a round trip per person is said to be Rs 66,000.“We'll reimburse their expenses on air tickets within two days,” confirmed Chaukune Mayor Ganganasi Sunar.A majority of the local representatives in the nine local units of Surkhet have already undertaken foreign trips that provide no apparent benefit to their local units. Such trips have only wasted millions of rupees of the taxpayers' money.

The "problem" is not just in Surkhet; a majority of the local representatives of all 79 local units across Karnali Province have already embarked on unnecessary foreign trips, according to sources.Dolpa's Tripurasundari Municipality Mayor Om Bahadur Budha and acting Chief Administrative Officer Bhim Bahadur Dharala visited China last October. They went to China supposedly to gather support to build a five-star tourist hotel in the district. On the downside, the team spent millions of rupees of the taxpayers' money on the trip.

Last year too, the local representatives of Dolpa had gone to Mumbai and Nashik of India to supposedly study and observe grape and apple farming. In that year, the district's elected representatives spent more than Rs 20 million on abroad trips.Likewise, a team led by Jumla's Tatopani Rural Municipality Chair Nawaraj Neupane had also embarked on a week-long China trip last October in the name of conducting a feasibility study on the local unit's development, prosperity and energy area.

According to the chair, the trip was focused on observing the Chinese development model and securing Chinese investment in Jumla. “We have plans to bring development in our local unit. So we went there to secure Chinese investment on wind energy production among other agendas,” said Chair Neupane.Experts say a majority of these trips have not served any purpose and have cost the state coffers dearly.

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