Health Ministry decides to shut government medical colleges’ liaison offices in KathmanduOfficials say such offices are turning into centres for corruption and irregularities
Following complaints that Kathmandu liaison offices of the government medical colleges located outside the Valley were involved in irregularities, the Ministry of Health and Population has decided to shut them.
The Rapti Academy of Health Sciences, the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences, the Pokhara Academy of Health Sciences, the Ram Raja Prasad Singh Academy of Health Sciences and the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences have set up liaison offices in Kathmandu. Except for the BP Koirala Institute, other academies set up their liaison offices in Kathmandu after the appointment of their office bearers.
“From a ministerial-level decision, we have decided to shut all the liaison offices of the government medical colleges,” Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told the Post. “Why do they need liaison offices in Kathmandu, when the Health Ministry is here to coordinate?”
According to officials at the Health Ministry, the academies have rented office spaces, appointed staff and bought vehicles, just as regular health-related works in the concerned regions have been hampered.
The Rapti Academy of Health Sciences, which is under the scanner for irregularities, was found to have been spending money in Kathmandu under different headings, including seminars and workshops while the budget allocated by the Health Ministry should have been utilised for the Academy.
“We have found that office bearers of these academies are hiring unnecessary staff in Kathmandu offices and not paying attention where it is due,” a member of the probe team told the Post requesting anonymity.
The team formed by the Health Ministry to probe irregularities in the Rapti Academy last month recommended that the ministry shut all liaison offices of government medical colleges, saying they were turning into centres for corruption and irregularities.
Sangita Bhandari, vice-chancellor of the Rapti Academy, however, defended the move to open the office in Kathmandu.
“Compared to other academies, we have been spending less and using fewer number of vehicles,” Bhandari told the Post over the phone. “Academies operating from outside the Valley need offices in Kathmandu, as they have to be constantly in touch with the federal government rather than their respective provincial governments.”
According to Bhandari, the probe team formed by the Health Ministry was biased.
The Karnali Academy also has objected to the government’s decision to shut its Kathmandu office.
“We will request the Health Ministry to reconsider the decision,” said Rajendra Raj Wagle, vice-chancellor of the Karnali Academy. “However, we will see what other academies do and decide accordingly.”
Wagle admitted that Karnali Academy has rented a house in Lalitpur and hired some staff to run the office.
“The BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences was the first academy to set up a liaison office in Kathmandu,” said Wagle. “If liaison offices need to be shut, it’s the BP Academy which needs to do so first.”
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