IBN's independence must‚ says UK

IBN's independence must‚ says UK
'This will free the investment board of pressure and curb nepotism'

The Himalayan Times 
March 9, 2015

Kathmandu, March 8: The United Kingdom has wanted the legislative body to secure the independence of Investment Board Nepal from the political process and get it out of the government system as the prime minister-led body has become susceptible to nepotism.

Presenting evidence to the International Development Committee in the UK’s parliament last week, Desmond Swayne, Minister of State, Department for International Development, said the UK government would be expecting Nepal’s parliament to legislate on IBN and its independence soon. While the important part of its agenda required parliamentary intervention, the British government would be looking to help in the matter.

“The principal risk to IBN, which oversees mega projects, is that instead of very bright young people who are there on the basis of merit, somebody’s cousin gets the job because of their cousin’s position.That danger will always will be there, hence the need to reinforce and change the law by securing the independence of the Investment Board,” the UK parliament’s document quoted Swayne as saying.

To build the credibility of IBN, the political establishment must properly recognise its strength and importance and push through the agenda of securing the IBN’s independence from the political process, Swayne suggested. 

DFID has been investing and building the IBN in terms of getting those high-powered, well-educated, experienced young people to return to Nepal and work for the board, he said, adding, “We want to change the law, parliament will be required to do that.”

Saying the UK government had spent a lot of money on elections in Nepal and that there was tremendous success, the minister in his reply to another query said, “Would we do that again? I doubt it. You are quite right that we need to move our attention elsewhere. There is no control experiment, but I wonder if we had invested in parliamentary strengthening whether we might have reached the constitutional target on 22 January.” 

Responding to a query on the recent findings by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact that accused DFID’s fund of encouraging corruption in Nepal, the minister said that ICAI had been asked to give them more background as to how the researchers selected people and how they applied it. “We have not had an answer yet.” The minister also said that NGOs were as prone to corruption in a corrupt society as the government was.

According to him, the ICAI report’s principal thrust was that DFID should be more ambitious in its attempts, in its programmes throughout the world, to address petty corruption. “The irony is that in Nepal I would suggest the programme that drew so much of their criticism — the local government programme — is precisely such a model that drives forward change throughout society.” 

Minister Swayne with Saul Walker, Head of Asia, Caribbean and Overseas Territories Directorate, DFID, and Mark Smith, Deputy Head, DFID Nepal replied to 67 queries raised by parliamentarians including Malcolm Bruce, Hugh Bayley, Fiona Bruce and Peter Luff on DFID’s work in Nepal as Britain being the third largest donor after the World Bank and Asian Development Bank spent € 104.7 million in 2013-14 and allocated € 89.8 million for 2014-15 on its bilateral aid programme.