Deputing staffers to provincial, local governments challengingAlthough the government has deputed civil servants to work as chief executives of the new local units in preparation for the local polls, bringing government staffers under the provincial or local governments permanently looks challenging.
Although the government has deputed civil servants to work as chief executives of the new local units in preparation for the local polls, bringing government staffers under the provincial or local governments permanently looks challenging.
With civil servants demanding one level promotion for agreeing to work with provincial or local administrations, the government is currently in a fix how to depute them.
The civil servants are of the view that once they are brought under the lower level governments, they will not only be confined to a political unit, they will also have limited opportunity for career growth.
As per the report of the High-Level Administration Reforms Implementation and Monitoring Committee, only 20-25 percent of civil servants will remain under the central government while a large number of them will be brought under provincial and local governments.
Currently, there are 83,201 civil servants, around 193,000 teachers and several staffers of development committees paid by the state. But the government is likely to face stiff resistance from them if the efforts were made to mobilise them without any incentives. According to Minister for General Administration Keshav Kumar Budhathoki, around 80 percent of the total civil servants will be deputed at the provincial and local level while just 20 percent will be under the central government.
Punya Prasad Dhakal, president of the official trade union of civil servants, said that even for keeping civil servants’ morale high after they are shifted under the lower government, it is necessary that they are promoted one level at least. Citing the example of the Armed Police Force, Dhakal said, “When it was created, those who joined the APF from Nepal Army and Nepal Police were given one level promotion. We want the same provision implemented [in our case].” However, the government is against the idea of giving automatic promotion because of high costs involved in such a decision and the wrong precedent it would set. A senior official at the ministry, who didn’t want to be named, said the state cannot sustain the cost of automatic promotion. “Instead of promotion, we are discussing how to make the transition easier by providing incentives such as funding the cost of shifting offices and increasing their grade,” said the official.
The trade union had protested when the ministry forwarded a bill on Government Employees Adjustment and Management a few months ago, arguing that the bill offered no incentive for the employees to work under the lower level governments. They were particularly irked by the provision of the bill which gives the government authority to remove any staffers who failed to attend the assigned office within 35 days, without giving an opportunity for clarification. The Public Service Commission, which recommends civil servants for recruitment and promotion, also expressed reservations over the 35-day deadline. The PSC objected that the provision is against the principle of natural justice. It also questioned the need for a new deadline as the Civil Service Act authorises the government to remove any civil servant failing to attend the assigned office within 90 days, after clarification.
Following the PSC stance, the government has decided to introduce a new bill that will address the concerns of all the government staffers, not only civil servants. Dinesh Thapaliya, secretary at the PMO, said the new bill could talk about incentives.
He said the process of introducing the new bill would begin once two taskforces—headed by the secretaries of the Local Development Ministry and the Ministry of General Administration—submit their reports possibly by mid-April.