Thursday, September 12, 2002

US $ 41,000 for two seminars

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 11[2002]:Nepali authorities should be able to do better things with foreign aid. However, they prefer to blow-up well-intentioned foreign-funded money in typically Nepali ways. Organising seminars, a la Nepal, has come to the open as one more proof of the ingenuity of Nepalis in ‘blowing up’ money, if the following example is any proof.

Nepal is to receive as much as Rs 3,222,190 or 41,000 US dollars to organise two seminars, from the UNESCO central office for the coming year, as per requests made by Nepali authorities, sources revealed to The Kathmandu Post today.

A seminar titled "A Sub-regional Seminar of Government Regulation of Privatisation process in Education in South Asia", 183162 01NEP, will give the authorities 25,000 US dollars, while another seminar on "Women Empowerment, Partnership Nepal, Lalitpur", 183162 03NEP, is going to cost 16,000 US dollars.

"Rather than blowing up the foreign aid in vague seminars, Nepal could have utilised that money for a hundred other more fruitful issues," said a source refusing to be identified.

UNESCO Central Office has formally approved two requests made by Nepal National Commission for UNESCO under the Participation Programme for the biennium 2002-2003.

However, a letter written by Ahmed Sayyad, Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Co-operation of UNESCO, sent on September 2 to Khagendra Basnyat, the Secretary General of Nepal National Commission for UNESCO, states that no new financial contribution for the 2002-2003 biennium will be paid until the applicant has submitted all the financial reports, together with all supporting documents necessary, in respect of contributions for which payments were effected prior to 31 December 2000.

Moreover, the letter also warns the Nepali authorities that it has to keep all supporting documents (receipts, contracts, invoices, and so on) in respect of the use made, for this financial contribution for a period of five years after the end of the biennium concerned (2008) and to provide them to UNESCO when it or its Auditor so requests "failing which unsupported amounts will be reimbursed to UNESCO".

"The way we have been sending reports of the expenditure has not been satisfactory to UNESCO headquarters. This is quite a small amount we have so far taken from UNESCO but it is going to be quite tough for us, " the source said.
[Kathmandu, Thursday September 12, 2002 Bhadra 27, 2059.]