Tightening Foreign Trips

The foreign trips of the civil servants have now come on the radar law and media. Foreign visit in itself is not bad thing. It broadens their knowledge and perception as they attend seminars and trainings, interact with experts and sightsee the new places and things. It is an important element of the career enhancement. It is essential to go beyond the office chamber and feel the real world for expanding horizon of thinking and understanding of the rapid development taking place around the world. New skill and expertise, gained in the foreign nations, come in handy back home. The civil servants, students, teachers, journalists, political leaders and social workers should utilise their knowledge and experiences, obtained from the foreign trip, for the broader interest of public and nation.

However, the foreign trip has turned into a junket. This has bled the public coffers. There has been tendency among the civil servants to visit abroad for fun or making buck. Many are always on the lookout for the foreign trip as they are transferred from on office to another. As such an unsavoury trend has gone beyond the control, the government introduced ‘Foreign Trip Management Directive-2018’ to control the malpractice. There are three types of foreign trips -- one managed under the government expenses as decided by the cabinet. Under the second type of trip, tickets and all expenses are arranged by the inviting nations. In the third category, the contracting parties (projects) of the respective nations bear all costs of visit. The Directive has strictly banned the third type of trip.

With the new legal provision in place, the tendency of embarking on the foreign trip has dramatically come down. Still the tough law has not been fully effective to do away with bad bureaucratic culture. According to the news report of this daily, majority of the civil servants has violated the Directive as they frequently fly to foreign nations in the name of attending various programmes and training courses. They are supposed to submit the detail reports about the trip but they don’t care a hoot about the legal obligation. The Directive obliges that every ministry must publish the details of the foreign trips of its staff after the end of every fiscal year. But it is the only Ministry of Home that abided by the new legal apparatus. There are currently 22 ministries, including the OPMCM.

It is only the Ministry of Home Affairs that has made public the names of the officials who made foreign trips in the fiscal year 2018/19. It has informed that 106 of its officials visited various countries during the last fiscal year. The failure of other ministries to release the report of their staff going abroad indicates the lawlessness griping the state agencies that are supposed to follow laws, norms and ethics. Clause-8 of the Directive stipulates that the leading official or coordinator of the respective visit has to submit the detail report within 15 days from the return of visits. Team leaders must explain the objectives of the visit, programmes and types and expected outcomes. This is indeed sound and practical provision aimed at maintaining good governance and discipline. It is up to top level bureaucrats to follow and make their juniors abide by the provision.  

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