Kathmandu, March 14: Probably the world’s poorest head of the state, Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala lists just three ordinary mobile phones as his assets.
This came to light when he furnished his property details Thursday but it is yet to be made public by the Prime Minister Office.
Koirala, who is the epitome of simple living, is known as ‘Saint’ in Nepali politics.
Though his office is yet to make public his property details, one of his aides Friday morning shared details of his property with IANS and revealed that Koirala did not possess any moveable and unmovable property throughout his life.
Koirala, who became Nepal’s prime minister at the age of 75 last month, is single, does not possess any land, house, bank balance or even a bank account. Koirala even does not have any share in any financial institution or investment company.
After becoming prime minister last month, he is yet to receive his salary.
“Once he receives his salary, we will open a bank account for him,” said Prakash Adhikari, press coordinator to the prime minister.
According to Adhikari, Koirala owns three mobile phone sets — one latest version of iPhone and two other ordinary mobile sets. Out of these three mobile sets, one does not work.
“Besides these mobile sets, he does not possess any property,” said Adhikari.
Koirala never held any public office in the past and never accepted any patriarchial property.
He lives in a rented house in Kathmandu, the rent of which is paid by his party, the Nepali Congress.
Before he was elected to the post of prime minister, Koirala used to move around in vehicles provided by a party well-wisher, said Adhikari.
An official at the Prime Minister Office, who first received the property details of Koirala, was shocked after going though the check list.
“It was really unbelievable and I was shocked but when I checked with his aides, I found it was true and later came to the conclusion that our prime minister is indeed a simple man,” he told IANS.
Koirala hails from Banke district in western Nepal where one of his brothers and relatives live.
His other six brothers possess a huge chunk of land but Koirala never accepted the patriarchial property when it was partitioned among the brothers.
According to Adhikari, when the aides, after receiving the details, asked Koirala whether he has any other property to add, the prime minister said: “No, I do not have property, whatever I have is these three sets of mobile phones.”
Ever since he took over the helm of the government, Koirala has been urging his cabinet colleagues to maintain economic transparency, austerity in governance and zero tolerance against corruption. He had the smallest delegation during the recent BIMSTEC summit held in the first week of March in Myanmar.
Koirala wears one simple watch and a gold ring.
“He was not sure whether that gold ring was pure or not and so did not include it in the property list,” added Adhikari.
According to the Corruption Control Act 1992, all public office-bearers of Nepal, including the prime minister, ministers, ambassadors, civil servants and those who draw salary from the state coffers, should disclose their and their relatives’ property details.
Those who draw salary and perks from the state coffers submit their property details categorised like house, land, vehicles, shares, bank account, cash in hand, and gold and silver items.
Earlier too, after the restoration of democracy in 1990, then prime minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai led a similar life.
He devoted his entire life to the struggle for democracy in this Himalayan nation and lived in a simple rented room.
Late Bhattarai had an umbrella, a clay-made water pot — locally called “surahi” — and an aluminum box as property.
(Anil Giri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)