Latest News

Foreign missions to get land on lease - The Himalayan Times

Aug 19, 2012

KATHMANDU: With the shortage of open land mass in the Capital, the government has decided against handing over land ownership to foreign countries wishing to set up embassies and other diplomatic facilities here. This will be the government’s policy shift from the existing practice of permanently transferring land ownership to foreign embassies and missions.

The Council of Ministers, on August 1, decided to provide the land spaces to foreign countries only on a long-term lease — a sort of temporary ownership transformation. The Cabinet also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to formulate and recommend appropriate policy and Terms and Reference (ToR) to this effect.

This coincides with the government’s recent road-expansion drive, which, at different places, including some embassy premises, has met face-offs. Deputy Prime Minister Narayankaji Shrestha said, “Land is connected with sovereignty. And we realised the need to come up with this policy realising that we may face problems if some powerful nations wanted to procure more land than they actually need.”

Campaigners are of the view that permanently handing over land ownership to the missions has created shortage of open space. According to MoFA Spokesperson, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, the government could, however, choose to follow countries who provide spaces to foreign missions only on long-term lease due to shortage of adequate open space in their capitals. Some countries such as the United States and Germany have a policy of permanently handing over land ownership.

 “As of now, we also have the same policy. However, there are many countries, which only provide land based on long-term lease of 50/100/150 years,” said Thapa, who heads Administration Division at MoFA. For instance, the Embassy of Nepal in London is also procured as long-term-lease, he said. Kathmandu hosts around two dozen foreign embassies, and as many diplomatic facilities, including the United Nations and its specialised agencies.

 Most of them have their own premises with permanent ownership of their chancery, embassy residence, and office buildings — thanks to the incumbent policy of permanence in ownership shift. “The policy we are going to formulate will not be a retrospective one. The foreign missions, which owe permanent land ownerships, can continue to hold their ownerships. But newcomers will have no such facility,” said a source.

 Thapa said the MoFA will soon form a committee comprising representatives of all concerned ministries and authorities, including the Ministry of Land Reforms and Management and the Ministry of Finance, to formulate an appropriate policy and the ToR for the long-term lease. He said the committee will determine the modality of the lease and its tenure in accordance with international practices and national needs.

Source : The Himalayan Times