Time and again I read here in local papers that “ABC” International Expert Advisors are assigned for “XYZ” Local Nepali project. I laugh at this rhetoric or let say beautiful paradox happening here. I have worked with, and personally known some exceptional International Consultants, Experts and Advisors who have worked here in Nepal. They have rendered wonderful service and contributed greatly to this nation. I have also known some of the so-called “Foreign Expert Advisors” working here in Nepal whose Job Descriptions require that they “give proper advice and recommendations for the development of Nepal”. However, in some cases what happens in reality is that Mr International Expert receives advice, training and teaching from their local counterparts i.e. Mr. Nepali.
I can give an example of this situation, which happened here in a multi-million dollar project. The project was the brainchild of a very smart Ambassador who diverted the taxpayer’s money from place X to place Y. The massive project was planned to last for a 20 year period. During the second phase of this project, an overseas Expert Advisor arrived, who had an MS degree from an International University. His counterpart was a Nepali gentleman employed to co-operate with and assist this “so called” advisor to accomplish his tasks. Now, Mr. Nepali was a very senior, knowledgeable, and capable expert on the project, who also had a MS degree from a similar international university. In fact his degree had been achieved much earlier than the International Advisor’s. In short the Expatriate Advisor was very junior to Mr Nepali in experience and delivery of the services for which he had been assigned. Yes, he could show on paper that he was always busy achieving the required tasks, but in fact, report compiling, writing up and even presentations were being accomplished by Mr Nepali. But the wonder was, that the Advisors’ name would always be shown as the author.
What type of advice can these sort of Mr/Ms. Experts provide for this country and why do the Mr/Ms. Nepalis seem to be simply Consultants when they can, and in fact often do the whole job themselves. Many International Experts seem to spend most days as one long holiday. The reality is Mr. Advisor could never function without the expertise, help and courtesy of Mr Nepali Consultant. Many do not know the basics of this country, its geography, history, culture and language.
I also question the discrimination with regards to payment to International Expatriate Advisors and similarly qualified local counterparts. It is not fair to pay such huge amounts in hard currency to expats whilst similarly qualified locals have to get by on a fraction of these amounts. I am not, and never have been against International Advisors and Consultants when they are competent, diligent and we do not have the local expertise available.
These sort of arrangement happen when we approve wrong projects and sign wrong agreements without proper studies and discussions with Local Experts. Just think how much money and effort could be saved if this was the standard protocol prior to any International agreements. It is really about time to raise a big question mark regarding such “Advisors and Experts” entering Nepal. Their rights and duties must be categorically defined and moreover their performance during their tenure must be evaluated regularly. We must be selective in assigning Advisors, Experts and other International Consultants for the benefit of this county not just to please someone in power. Let us not allow inexperienced, incompetent individuals to mess around and mess up this country any longer otherwise we will regret and repent later.
Sitapaila, Kathmandu, Nepal
21st August 2006
By: Rajendra Keshari Pandey