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My Experiences and Achievements from the QUT and Australia Awards Fellowships and Training Programs in Australia and Nepal

By Mahesh P. Dahal, Chairman, Nepal Revenue Board

I retired from the Nepali Civil Service on 1st May 2020 after serving more than 33 years as the career bureaucrat. I served in various Ministries of the government including Education, Science and Technology; Labor, Employment and Social Security; Youth and Sports; Defense and Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers as the Secretary (Head of the Bureaucracy). I also worked in different Ministries and Departments of Government of Nepal as the capacity of Section Officer, Under Secretary, Local Development Officer, Director General, Joint Secretary, Consul General of Nepal in Hong Kong (2013-2015)) and Regional Administrator before being the Secretary in 2015.

The Government of Nepal appointed me as the Chairman of the Nepal Revenue Board in August 2020 after I retired from the bureaucracy. Nepal Revenue Advisory Board is considered as the Revenue Think Tank and a Platform for Policy Dialogue on matters related to revenue in the country. The board will regularly provide suggestions and feedback to the Ministry of Finance and also conducts study and research on issues related to revenues.

I had attended the following three programs managed by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and supported by the Australia Awards.

  1. Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship on Developing Strategic Local Development Framework in Nepal: International Benchmarking in Australia (16 February – 13 March 2009).
  2. Intensive Training Program on Anti-Money Laundering and Revenue Investigation (26-31 July 2010), Queensland University of Technology/Government of Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal
  3. Building Capacity of the Department of Revenue Investigation in Financial Transparency and Accountability: Benchmarking and Site Visit in Australia (23 – 27 August 2010)

In addition to these events I had many other occasions to participate Australian and QUT Alumni programs in Kathmandu. I was the first person contacted for the QUT/Australia Awards fellowships and training programs/projects for Nepal. I personally took a lead to develop and manage the above three projects and coordinated many other fellowships and related programs designed to National Planning Commission, Financial Comptroller General Office and  Nepal Electricity Authority of Nepal.

Nepal was declared a federal state in 2008, and the Australia Awards Fellowship program directly contributed and benefitted us in incorporating relevant context, information and pertinent issues into the policies and strategies of the newly created federal system in Nepal.

QUT-Australia Awards Experiences and Contribution

Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship on Developing Strategic Local Development Framework gave me an insight of roles and responsibilities of local governments on matters related to local development and governance, local finance and fiscal transfer mechanism and overall administration and management of LGs. The site visit in one of the predominant Aboriginal municipalities in Queensland provided a thoughtful understanding on how a local government can be run effectively in making its activities more representative and inclusive. Discussion and interaction with the local, provincial and federal authorities enriched us in understanding the role delineation among the three tiers of governments in Australia. It was a significant input to us in strengthening our governing system within the federal structure more particularly, the local government system. Nepal was declared a federal state in 2008, and the Australia Awards Fellowship program directly contributed and benefitted us in incorporating relevant context, information and pertinent issues into the policies and strategies of the newly created federal system in Nepal.

Similarly, the training/capacity building on anti-money laundering and revenue investigation also remained very productive and meaningful for us. The Government of Nepal established the Money Laundering Investigation Department in July 2011 and adopted the anti-money laundering framework consequently.

The QUT/ Australia Awards programs offered professional development opportunities among several Nepalese public officials in bringing positive changes in their working attitude and helped developing and designing appropriate policies, strategies and reform programs in the areas of planning, local governance, financial transparency and accountability, risk-based audit, internal audit, internal control and anti- money laundering in the country.

For me this program greatly contributed in my career progression as well. I became the director general of the Department of Revenue Investigation; joint financial comptroller general and joint secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Consul General of Nepal in Hong Kong. These duties and responsibilities further assisted me to become secretary in 2015. I also had an opportunity to represent my country as the alternate board member (Asia and the Pacific) in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in 2020 and the deputy governing body member from government constituency (2018- 2019) in the ILO, Geneva, Switzerland. The various exposures and experiences also accounted for taking these duties and responsibilities.

Finally, on behalf of Nepal, I extend my sincere thanks to QUT, more particularly the International Projects Unit and the Australian Government for the wonderful opportunities extended to the Nepalese professionals and policy makers.

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