KATHMANDU, Sept 22: Nine members of the parliamentary Development Committee left for Laos on a weeklong visit on Monday to study infrastructure projects implemented by the South East Asian country which has seen rapid economic development in recent years.
The team is led by committee chair Rabindra Adhikari.
It is learnt that Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sponsored the visit as per the request of the committee made through the Ministry of Finance.
Officials of Development Committee told Republica that the team will visit infrastructure projects like of road, urban development and hydropower projects, among others. The team will visit a major storage-type hydropower project, Greater Mekong Regional
Highway as well as the urban water supply and sanitation system.
Experts, however, say the parliamentarians should have avoided such sponsored visits.
“After being part of the sponsored trip, the lawmakers might not be able to monitor projects implemented by the sponsor in a fair and objective manner,” Former Auditor General Bhanu Prasad Acharya said.
Several development projects funded by ADB are in different stages of implementation in Nepal.
Infrastructure Policy Expert Surya Raj Acharya said the lawmakers would have chosen Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and China if they were really interested to study development. “Most of such visits by political leaders and bureaucrats are made without setting out objectives. Being a tourist and learning development are different things," he added.
In a meeting organized by the Development Committee to discuss sick infrastructure projects four weeks ago, Adhikari had said that some committee members were planning to visit Laos and Cambodia to learn development activities there. “It is unfortunate that we are lagging far behind East Asian countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who used to be under-developed like Nepal few decades ago. But we should not hesitate to learn from them,” he had told in the meeting.
Lawmakers Sita Giri Oli, Prakash Paudel, Lalit Jung Shahi, Ganesh Sing Thagunna, Ganesh Pahadi, Shiva Chandra Chaudhari, Anita Devkota and Lal Bahadur Gurung are in the team.
ADB told Republica that the visit was arranged as per the request of the Ministry of Finance. The objective of the visit is to provide opportunities to lawmakers to observe and consult on how the ADB-assisted projects are formulated and implemented in other countries, ADB said.
In an email response to Republica's query, ADB's Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said: "The visit was conceptualized during the interactions of the finance ministry and the ADB with the committee members regarding the progress and issues of ADB projects in Nepal, for which they are also facilitating expediting the projects like Melamhi Water Supply Project, Gautam Buddha Regional International Airport, Tribhuvan International Airport, Tanahu Hydropower project.”
Members of the Development Committee were on a similar visit to India two months ago. Nine members of the committee led by Adhikari visited Indian toll road and metro rail projects. They also studied post-quake reconstruction in Indian state of Gujarat.
The visit was funded by the Government of India.