Minister defends amenities for President, her deputyDespite widespread criticism, the government has defended its decision to expand the President’s Office premises by acquiring the Nepal Police Academy, procure a motorcade for President Bidya Devi Bhandari and to relocate the Vice President’s Office.
Despite widespread criticism, the government has defended its decision to expand the President’s Office premises by acquiring the Nepal Police Academy, procure a motorcade for President Bidya Devi Bhandari and to relocate the Vice President’s Office.
Cabinet Spokesperson Gokul Prasad Banskota, during a regular press briefing on Thursday, said that offices of the President and the Vice President had unnecessarily been dragged into a controversy.
Banskota dismissed the public outrage over the decisions saying that the comments were intended to weaken and defame the newly established democratic republic.
The communist-led government is under fire for its plan to expand the President’s Office and to shift the Vice President’s office and residence to the Social Welfare Council premises in Lainchaur. Opposition leaders, former bureaucrats and eminent personalities criticised the move as “unnecessary” and “misuse of taxpayers’ money”. The council spread over 28 ropanis was built with public donations.
According to Banskota, neither the President nor the VP had demanded anything but it was the duty of the government to take care of their requirements.
“Since we did not manage infrastructure and conveniences for the President and the Vice President when monarchy was abolished, these decisions were taken to
make these institutions effective,” said Banskota, the minister for information and communication technology.
During the recent BIMSTEC summit, according to minister Banskota, the government had a tough time arranging for bullet-proof vehicles for the visiting heads of state.
The President’s Office had sought Rs160 million to buy vehicles last year but the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government released only Rs40 million.
Later the President’s Office sought Rs140 million from the Defence Ministry. Banskota also clarified that the sum was not for purchasing a single vehicle but a motorcade including a bullet-proof car.
Stating that the decision to set up a Police Academy in Kavre was made four years ago, Banskota said the charges that the government was relocating the academy to expand the President’s office were unfair. “Media criticised it when people were stuck in traffic due to the President’s movement. Therefore, the government will build a helipad at Sheetal Niwas [to fly her around],” he said.
The minister expressed concerns over the “pathetic arrangements” made for the head of state and her deputy. “There is no space for the President to hold reception for foreign dignitaries and the Vice President has been sharing the space with the Election Commission,” he said.