Consular services set to go online

Published On: January 10, 2017 01:30 AM NPT By: Republica


People from far flung districts do not have to travel to capital just to file an application
KATHMANDU, Jan 10: Much to the relief of its service seekers, the Department of Consular Service (DoCS) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is set to introduce online application system that will allow the public to benefit from various consular services without visiting the office.

The online application system, which is currently undergoing a trial phase, will have different templates of application including making request for search and rescue of missing persons abroad, bringing back home the bodies of Nepali nationals killed abroad, expediting process to claim compensation, and giving the power of attorney to other persons.

As the number of Nepali nationals visiting abroad for job and study has gone up sharply over the years, the need of effective consular service has also grown equally high. Once the online application system is brought into operation, ordinary people living in various far flung areas of the country do not need to travel to Kathmandu just to file an application to make a request for searching or rescuing persons or bringing back home the bodies of those who died abroad. 

Currently, people seeking such kind of consular services have to come to Kathmandu just to file an application. As many such seekers may be visiting Kathmandu for the first time, they are accompanied by other relatives or family members, and they may have to stay in Kathmandu for several days not knowing exactly what they need to do.“

"You can imagine the cost that people traveling, for instance from Achham or Mugu, may have to incur, and the hassles they may have to undergo just to file an application," said Director General at the Department of Consular Services Gahehdra Rajbhandari, explaining the rationale behind their plan to introduce online application system. 

Although a large number of people do not have internet access and are not even familiar with the online application system, Director General Rajbhandari argued that such people can file applications from the nearest place where internet service is available.“

"The beauty of this online system is that applicants can have their own username and password, and they can check any time the progress made in their online application. The status of their application is updated in the remarks section of the application itself," he further said. 

On an average, some 800 service seekers visit the DoCS each day for various consular services. Besides authenticating documents originated from various government agencies in Nepal for those travelling abroad for study and other purposes, the DoCS has to deal mostly with cases concerning search for missing persons, or rescuing those in trouble in foreign land, and bringing back the bodies of Nepali nationals who die abroad. 

Keeping in view of the urgency and sensitivity of the kind of services it provides, the Department of Consular Service has introduced a slew of measures including token system and extended office hours from 9 am to 5 pm to ensure prompt and effective service delivery to its service seekers. The office has also introduced a system to provide services within half an hour of the submission of necessary documents, which is something rare among government offices in Nepal. 

Officials are optimistic that the online application system will help make the consular services further effective.

 

"Besides helping to ensure institutional memory of the DoCS, this system will eventually help increase access of people to the government services," Director General Rajbhandari further said.


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