Bureaucracy snubbed the Prime Minister’s directive?

In less than a week, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal twice directed the bureaucracy not to implement MDMS. But has the bureaucracy complied with the PM’s directive?

Photo: NL Today

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Following widespread criticisms over the decision of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to implement the mobile device management system (MDMS) in a full-fledged manner, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ last week directed authorities concerned not to implement the decision to levy tax on mobile sets brought from abroad by Nepali citizens.

After public outcry over imposition of tax on the import of mobile sets from abroad, Prachanda, on Tuesday, redirected the Finance Minister and secretary at the Ministry of Finance not to implement the MDMS system for the time being. 

But, the customs employees did not follow the directive from the Prime Minister. There were many complaints from the citizens over the hassles created by the bureaucracy. 

For example, a news report emerged that a Nepali citizen, returning from the United States just two days after his directive, faced hassles from the customs officials as he had brought two handset devices with him. The customs officials at the Tribhuvan International Airport told Dudh Lal Nembang, of Jhapa, that he had to pay Rs 30,000 in taxes.

Nembang then left the airport leaving the phone he brought from the US at the customs office, reported Setopati, a Nepali-language online portal.

“I told the officials that Prime Minister Dahal has directed the authorities to allow Nepalis to bring two mobile devices to Nepal. I brought the phone as per this directive. But the officials showed me the Nepal Gazette and said just the directive of the Prime Minister is not enough,” Setopati quoted Nembang as saying.

Migrant workers were outraged over the government’s decision to implement the MDMS system. Nepali migrant workers had started #NoRemittance campaign on social media following the decision to implement the system. 

Migrant workers believe that the system was introduced at the behest of some traders involved in import of mobile phone sets. 

Has the PM’s directive been snubbed by the bureaucracy?

Punya Bikram Khadka, information officer at the Department of Customs, said it is not like the bureaucracy doesn’t follow the directives from the Prime Minister’s office. “But there was confusion at the airport on Sunday. The person who brought the mobile phone couldn’t convince the officials that only one mobile device was new, and another was an old one. Or we don’t know if both the mobile sets were new,” said Khadka. “The person just left the mobile device at the office.”

It is not known what actually led the customs officials to act in a manner that looks like a defiance of the PM’s directive. If the PM simply issued the directive without fulfilling the due process it  shows the weakness on the part of the PM’s office. If the customs officials actually defied the PM’s directive, it shows lack of communication and coordination between the two.

Either way, it goes without saying, it is the people who face inconvenience.