As a young tax officer at the Ministry of Finance, Chandai Prasad Shrestha got his first foreign exposure in his training in Japan. Nominated by the government under JICA’s scholarship, Shrestha received training in Japan that helped him introduce many local level tax system in Nepal.
His first exposure also helped him establish a long lasting relation with Japan. Shrestha’s son is a professor at Tokyo University. In 1985, Japan was a country of dream for Shrestha but it is a household matter now.
Former secretary Chandi Prasad Shrestha, former president of JICA Alumni Association of Nepal (JAAN), an organization of Nepali trainees and students, who obtained various training and academic education opportunities under JICA program in Japan, spoke to new spotlight on various issues.
“When I landed in Tokyo in 1985 via Bangkok, it was a unique experience. For someone from a small mountainous country, with a very few roads, Tokyo was a modern city and its facilities were amazing. We were moving ahead with human power and Japan was moving ahead through technology. However, what I found interesting was its culture,” recalled hrestha. “My experience of interacting with Japanese since 1985 is that Japanese people have always seen the Nepalese with great affection and love. They are very supportive. I have travelled so many times in Japan during my career and after, my feeling is that Japanese people support us more than anybody else. Their support is outstanding.”
Explaining the Japanese support to Nepal Shrestha saidone of the differences in Japanese support is that there is no hidden agenda. They support the poor people. Sometimes I think to myself, why do Japanese help in such a manner? Why do they love us so much? Is it because of our facial expression, Mt. Everest or country of Buddha? One good thing about Nepalese people is that they always smile even in pain.
After learning on local tax system in Japan, I introduced some tax systems for Village Panchayat and District Panchayat. My training in Japan played a significant role to influence the political leadership on the need to make local bodies financially strong through local taxes.
What about JAAN?
JAAN has over 1300 members in different government agencies. My experiences are that over 3000 people were trained in Japan. Most of them are working in various government offices. My own experience is that the training given in Japan is more helpful in discharging duties in Nepal. JICA’s training is very suitable in our context. The contributions made by JICA to Nepal for a better tomorrow are very significant.
When did you go to Japan for training?
I went to Japan in 1984 as a tax officer of Ministry of Finance under JICA. It was my first training abroad. After my return from Japan, I was promoted as undersecretary and transferred to Ministry of Local Development. As my training in Japan related to taxes, I introduced the local taxation to then Nagar Panchayats which were later on known as octroi.This helped a lot to strengthen the economic capability of municipalities.
As Nepal and Japan established their diplomatic relations sixty years ago, how do you see Japan’s economic support to Nepal?
Japan has been supporting Nepal in various sectors like hydropower, civil aviation, health, roads, education, agriculture and horticulture, training for technicians and civil service and peace building. Dhulikhel Bardibas Road and Kulekhani Hydropower project are two most important infrastructure projects. Similarly, TU Teaching Hospital is still a lifeline for Nepalese. Under one village one product scheme, Japanese have already introduced Junar, Trout Fish, Strawberry and vegetables. They have been supporting us to transform the livelihood of people. Sindhuli and Ramechhap’s farmers have changed their livelihood through Junar. Similarly, the trout fish changed the livelihood of many districts including Nuwakot and Rasuwa. These livelihood schemes helped to change the economy of rural farmers.
What do you suggest for future?
As Nepal has made tremendous changes, what Nepal requires now is a polytechnic institute to train young Nepalese. JICA can support Nepal in this direction. A large number of Nepalese are leaving for foreign countries. If the government provides them training, they can make a lot of money. Nepal needs to provide training for them. Japan also needs to support strengthening the political institutions in Nepal. As a liberal democratic country of the world, Japan should support Nepal to build the political institutions. As Japan has strong political institutions like municipality and parliament, Japan needs to send its experts in Nepal to share experiences of institution building. One of weak parts of Nepal is management. Nepal needs to learn management. Japan needs to support Nepal in management.
As a former president of JAAN, what do you see is the role of Nepalese trained in Japan?
Although JAAN members have been working in different sectors using their expertise and knowledge gained in Japan, they need to expand their work supporting development activities at the grass roots level.