Nagarik, 2 May

The government is preparing to bar foreign countries, their diplomatic missions and INGOs from spending money directly on projects in Nepal.

The National Good Conduct Policy 2018 also aims to strip bureaucrats, elected leaders and political appointees of their authority if they allow foreigners to directly invest in Nepal’s public or private sector. But exceptions can be made if foreigners secure the federal government’s approval, the Policy states.

The directive comes at a time when China and several western countries are seeking permission to invest directly in Nepal, pointing out that the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has long enjoyed such privilege. The embassy was first allowed to directly distribute or spend small grants up to INR300 million when Surya Bahadur Thapa was Prime Minister in 2003.

When Baburam Bhattarai became Prime Minister in 2011, the ceiling for India’s direct small grants was increased to INR500 million. But the Sher Bahadur Deuba government decided to not renew the agreement under which the Indian Embassy had been directly building schools, libraries, rural roads and other infrastructure in Nepal. But the new communist government led by UML Chair KP Oli reversed the previous goverment’s decision, once again allowing the Indian embassy to distribute direct small grants.

And now, China wants the same privilege. Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say the Kathmandu-based embassies of some western countries have also expressed their interest in distributing direct grants.

The policy also aims to deport foreigners found guilty of working against Nepal’s national interest, or even declare them persona non grata. It also proposes to set up a surveillance team under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which will closely monitor foreigners and INGOs operating in Nepal. Based on the reports submitted by the team, the government may scrap any agreement signed with an INGO.