Uphill task for NRA to put together teamSome argue mobilising civil servants will be easier than hiring new staff
As the country approaches the first anniversary of earthquakes that took nearly 9,000 lives, injured over 20,000 and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, the body tasked with overseeing reconstruction efforts is just failing to get things right.
The National Recon-struction Authority (NRA), which earlier failed to attract government officials for more than one reason, is now considering recruiting staff “on contract”, which it calls “Plan B”. Before putting on a public notice for hiring staff on competitive basis, the NRA is scheduled to hold a high-level “consultative meeting” with the concerned stakeholders including the minister for general administration, chief district officers from all 14 districts worst hit by the quakes and donors.
“We waited for long hoping that the government would provide human resources,” said NRA Spokesperson Ram Thapaliya. “So we are holding a high-level consultation before we go for Plan B.”
As per NRA Act, it can recruit employees at various levels on contractual basis, besides officials deputed from the government. NRA officials, however, seem to be reluctant to go for Plan B, even as human resource crunch has affected reconstruction works. They argue that mobilisation of civil servants will be easier than hiring new staff.
The government last week began hiring over 2,400 technicians, including engineers, on contractual basis for reconstruction works in 14 quake-hit districts.
The competitive hiring process was begun after the required human resources were not arranged for the NRA. It is expected that the technicians would be selected within 15 days.
The Ministry of General Administration (MoGA), the body responsible for arranging human resources required for government bodies, has deployed only a few junior level officials for the reconstruction body. Some of the officials who had earlier joined the NRA are seeking transfer to other offices.
Senior government officials are reluctant to work under an “untested” chief executive. Lack of clarity on career prospects and possible action of anti-graft bodies while dealing with huge amount of money, which is to the tune of $4.1 billion, are other deterrents.
NRA Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyewali is already under the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority scanner after complaints of corruption and other irregularities against him. The NRA has already said reconstruction of houses before the monsoon is not possible, in an indication that earthquake survivors have to endure monsoon rains under flimsy structure for the second season in a row.
The NRA though has said it is considering building what it calls “transitional shelters” for the quake survivors, the pace at which the reconstruction body is working fails to generate hope. On top of that, the staff crunch the NRA is facing is going to make matters worse.
In view of motivating civil servants who join the reconstruction body, the NRA had recently offered 100 percent incentives for the staffers, but the move failed.
Out of 41 civil servants who were recently deputed to the NRA after 100 percent incentive was offered, only six junior level officers have joined the NRA, according to details provided by the NRA.
An Organisation and Management survey conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office and the NRA has concluded that at least 208 staffers, including 17 joint-secretaries and 36 under-secretaries, will be required for the authority. “Only 54 officers are working in the office,” said Spokesperson Thapaliya.
Absence of civil servants has affected the NRA’s plan to establish sub-regional offices, which should have been completed by mid-January.
MoGA had recently
deputed Joint-secretaries Shatrughan Pudasaini, Sushil Pandey, Kul Prasad Chudal, Rabi Bhattarai and Ananda Ram Regmi, but they have not joined the NRA yet.