The Kathmandu Post, March 09, 2018
Govt working to handle sensitive foreign policy and security matters by one office in liaison with the prime minister
Kathmandu-The government is mulling over setting up the Office of the National Security Adviser under the Prime Minister’s Office, the first of its kind in Nepal’s history.
As part of the ongoing restructuring of the PMO, the government is making arrangements for handling sensitive foreign policy and security-related matters by one office in liaison with the prime minister.
One round of consultation with experts has been over on the nature of the institution. For the NSA’s inception, the government has already decided to bring the National Intelligence Department, the country’s sole intelligence body, under the PMO.
The NSA will apprise the PM of matters related to national security and foreign policy including the internal security situation.
The ministerial-level post having oversight of foreign, home and defense affairs and the security agencies will report on matters related to national security and foreign policy. With this, there will be no separate foreign policy adviser to the PM.
While doing the paperwork, officials are concerned over what to do with the present structure of the National Security Council and its responsibilities.
According to officials, the process of appointing the NSA will begin after defining the role of the NSC and the NSA.
If that happens in the near future, according to multiple sources, Rajan Bhattarai, a member of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India Relations and former foreign policy adviser to Oli during his previous prime ministership, would be the first choice.
Asked about his interest in the new job, Bhattarai said he would not deviate from the task of submitting the EPG’s report to the two governments by July.
Preparations are going on about setting up the NSA’s office and its organizational structure and defining its functions and responsibilities. Bhattarai said several exercises are ongoing at the PMO to adjust, merge and set up offices.
“We’re in the final stage of restructuring the PMO,” said Bishnu Rimal, chief adviser to PM Oli. “Under the idea of an all-powerful PMO, we are considering setting up the NSA’s office.”
A team of the PM’s aide and PMO secretaries are working to conclude the concept and structure of the PMO, which incorporates the NSA.
An expert whom the PM’s team had consulted said the role, function, and duties of the NSA will be similar to ones in India. Officials are also studying scenarios in other countries.
According to the business rules approved for the government after the election of Oli as PM, the PMO will not only receive information and coordinate on political, economic, social, administrative, diplomatic and national security matters but also intervene whenever necessary.
The PMO has also proposed forming several expert groups and think tanks related to the economy, finance, and administrative matters, among others.