Prime Minister Bhattrai to fly economy class to NY

KATHMANDU, Sept 13: Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has decided not to fly business class for his trip to New York, where he will attend United Nation´s 65th General Assembly. Prime Minister Bhattarai along with 12 delegates will leave for New York on September 19.

According to officials at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM), Dr Bhattarai has asked the officials to arrange for an economy
class ticket for him and his delegation.

“This is surprising but may set a precedent for others to follow.” Altogether, 13 members are leaving for New York to attend the UN General Assembly this time.

“I know I am a peasant´s son and I mustn´t enjoy facilities that a majority of Nepalis are not enjoying,” an official quoted Dr Bhattarai as saying during the conversation with OPMCM officials. “Please, arrange economy class ticket for me and government delegates without any further debate,” he is reported to have said.

Officials hope the move initiated by Prime Minister Bhattarai will help bolster governance, accountability and austerity within the government. “It will be a moral lesson for ministers and government officials who have been travelling only business class.”

According to OPMCM officials, this the first instance that the prime minister is flying abroad in economy class. Until now, prime ministers, ministers and high-ranking officials have been flying business class.

“I decided not to fly business class to maintain austerity in our functions,” Bishodeep Pandey quoted Bhattarai as saying while taking the decision to fly economy class.

Dr Bhattarai´s decision not to fly business class will reduce the expenditure incurred on official foreign visits by people in the government. According to the current price level, one has to spend Rs 160,000 (one-way) to Rs 400,000 (Kathmandu-New York round-trip) for economy class depending on category of the seat. For business class travel, one has to spend nearly three times more than the economy class fare and is likely to cost Rs 400,000 (one-way) to 1.1 million (round-trip).

Earlier, only one government secretary Leela Mani Paudyal, now home secretary, had used economy class for his foreign trips. Secretary Paudyal had cancelled business class tickets twice and traveled Australia and Berlin of Germany on economy class tickets in his capacity as a tourism secretary.BIMAL GAUTAM (republica)

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