The Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has cut eight senior posts citing budgetary constraints. Eight senior staff positions, including those held by Indian and Nepali officials and divisional heads are affected. The research institute specialising in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush regions has been in Kathmandu for the past for 15 years. ICIMOD's international board, which met last week, decided not to renew the contracts of the staffers because of a $400,000 hole in the budget caused by the devaluation of the Euro vis-?- vis the US dollar. According to insiders, making its decision the board declared that ICIMOD is "not a long-term employment agency". Some board members were said to be unhappy with the decision, and maintained that the termination should have been done with greater participation and transparency. Others welcomed the decision, and told us "the clearing of deadwood was long overdue".
Among those whose contracts have not been renewed are: Indians Anup Bhatia, Tej Pratap, NS Jodha, Nepalis Pradeep Man Tulachan, Pitamber Sharma and Suresh Raj Chalise, and Canadian-Pakistani Shahid Akhtar. All of them are reported to be very unhappy with the manner in which the board terminated their services.
In an internal letter to ICIMOD staff, Director General Gabriel Campbell explained that there were two reasons for the staff cuts-budgetary, and ICIMOD's philosophy that the organisation should build regional capacity. The organisation has long been criticised for being top-heavy and spending too much on staff salaries and overheads. "There is just no way to balance the budget, it was either this or letting off 50 Nepali staff," Campbell told us.