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ADVISORS to Nepal: an Example

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
E-mail: rajendrap2000@yahoo.com

0 thoughts on “ADVISORS to Nepal: an Example

  1. I agree with Rajendra-ji’s views on so-called experts deputed by donors and also his suggestions on future couurse of actions. It is in fact the baised mentality of our Nepali staff of donor agencies that too undermines the monetary value of services of a Nepali expert and worsens the situation. They tend to consider the compensation for Nepali experts in Nepalese currency by comparing it with the general salary of Nepalese officials or what they earn there. As often done before, these cannot be rationalsed simply through the inherent diffrences in living standards and needs of these two types of experts. In my experiences too, the performance of Nepali expert has often been superior to that of foreign one, even by receiving less.

    Yes, it is hightime, if not too late, to start giving serious thoughts about employing foreign expert for home-grown job and needs and determining compensation packages for local and foreign them. It should be based on ToR and expertise rather than location of their sources!

  2. Let us be clear that there is not even a single nation in the world which has transitioned from under-developed to developed stage with the help of expats and non-profit making institutions (NGOs and INGOs). Nepal has been doing this mistake for decades and it has been a fertile land for useless NGOs and expats. Policy makers has to wake up from this day-dream. Of course, we know about our country more than any expat. Still good expat can teach us a lot of things if we ever can get the good one. Good ones will hardly reach Nepal. They are highly demanded in their own country and if they ever reach Nepal, they will not spend more than a couple of weeks there. However,even a day is enough to get a good advice. We do not need useless expats sleeping in our country for years. This is all because of our national level policy – no one to be blamed here, it is all us. INGOs like UNDP, World Bank and even USAID have vested interest of selling their useless junkies as part of their loan or grant package. Our government should negotiate hard when it comes to loan deal so that we do not import bunch of useless expats to our country to finish half of the loan money. We should be OK with the grant – that is their money and let them send whatever number of expats they want to send. Sole purpose of grant money from an institution or a nation is usually to employ their own people.

  3. Thanks for the eyeopener. We accept that wholeheartedly. During a training progamme in a village I happened to know the importance of being an expatriate. A Nepali advisor addressed a group of people but although his speech was convincing and had lots of references, nobody seemed to believe him. When the turn of expatriate advisor came, the people were quite convinced, even by the few sentences that he spoke in broken Nepali! I think the same mentality persists in the intellectual circle as well.

    I personally know some Nepalis who have surpassed the expatriates in terms of expertise and knowledge and there are many people like them who are waiting for the right opportunity and exposure!

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