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Life still sweet for Nepal's royals

The new government has spent Nepali Rs 1.7 million in a year to buy honey for the palace at a time it is struggling to pay employees.

world Updated: Apr 24, 2007 12:46 IST

A year after his ouster as the all-powerful head of government, life still remains sweet for Nepal's King Gyanendra and the royal family with most of their perks intact.

The new government has spent Nepali Rs 1.7 million in a year to buy honey for the palace at a time it is struggling to pay employees and asking donors, especially India, for assistance.

In a year, the royal family - once the most extravagant shoppers in the kingdom - consumes about 100 kg of honey, a report said.

Though it would cost about Rs.20,000 in the market at the going rate of Rs.200 a kilo, the state has been spending nearly 100 times that because it is running an office staffed with employees to buy provisions for the royal family, the Kantipur daily reported.

An office has been set up solely to buy honey for the royals, employing 16 people for the purpose, the daily said. For almost a decade now, the office has been under the agriculture ministry.

Ironically, the ministry is headed by Chhabilal Bishwakarma, who belongs to the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist that is clamouring for the abolition of monarchy.

Nepal celebrated Tuesday the anniversary of the fall of King Gyanendra's 15-month government due to widespread public resistance, but there is little cause for the monarch to feel endangered.

In spite of pledging a year ago that they would hold an election to decide the fate of monarchy, Nepal's ruling parties are yet to announce a fresh election date after the Election Commission ruled out June for the polls.

It has also been nearly a year since the government formed a commission to punish the abettors of the royal regime.

However, the commission's report has yet not been made public, let alone implementing its recommendations.

Though the government stripped the king of his duties as head of state and said the property he inherited from his slain brother, the late king Birendra, would be nationalised, the royal family has ignored the call to submit their wealth details.