Civil servants reluctant to go to KarnaliOnly one-third of the adjusted employees have reported to duty so far
As the Karnali Province works on its budget for the fiscal year 2019-20, the Economic Affairs and Planning Ministry is facing difficulties getting budget proposals through the Provincial Line Ministry Budget Information System in the absence of technical staff.
The software, first used by federal government agencies as the Line Ministry Budget Information System, helps government agencies plan and propose projects, budget, annual work procedures, procurement, and output entry, among others.
“Various offices under different ministries have not been able to make budget proposals through the software due to lack of technical staff,” said Santa Bahadur Sunar, secretary at the provincial Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning.
Such a situation arose because most of the government employees who were deputed to the provincial government after their readjustment failed to report to duty.
The federal Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration announced in March that it had completed readjusting civil servants to the three layers of government—federal, provincial and local.
But Karnali, which lags behind other provinces as its districts fare poorly in the human development index, is yet to get most of its employees.
Just around 450 government employees out of the 1,334 sent to Karnali Province through the staff adjustment process have reported to their respective offices, according to Keshav Upadhyay, spokesperson for the Chief Minister’s Office.
The total number of posts under various ministries in the province is 1,992.
“We know some employees have registered complaints about their adjustment in Karnali. But the attendance of one-third of the adjusted staff is very low,” said Upadhyay.
As per the Employees Adjustment Act, the staff adjusted to provincial and local governments should take up the assigned duty within 21 days, excluding the travel time, after receiving their letters of adjustment.
If there is some compulsion such as illness, child delivery, suspension of employee, family mourning and study leave, the employees should reach the destination within 35 days after the leave is over, according to the law.
However, most of the staff have not reached Karnali Province, even though nearly three months have passed since the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration declared the completion of staff adjustment process.
On May 27, the Chief Minister’s Office issued a notice in the name of the employees who had not reported to their respective offices.
It also warned they could face action as per the law. The notice stated that most of the officials adjusted to the provincial government offices have not reached their destination.
If any employee doesn’t reach the destination on time, s/he is subjected to removal from the government service itself, according to Section 13 (3) of the Employees Adjustment Act.
Asked about the action, Spokesperson Upadhyay said it is up to the the federal government to take action because they were yet to become provincial employees formally.
Kedar Paneru, joint-secretary at the Federal Affairs Ministry, said that such employees should be penalised by the provincial government as the law says they become the employees of that particular province once they are deputed there.
He, however, said the ministry has not received any complaint formally from the Karnali government about their absence.
But officials at the province admit that attracting government staff to Karnali and retaining them is difficult as the province is poorly accessible and lags behind.
“Government employees don’t see opportunities in Karnali,” admitted Secretary Sunar.
According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, Karnali Province has the lowest share in the country’s gross domestic product.
To the Rs3.46 trillion national economy, Karnali has a contribution of just 3.4 percent while Province 3, which hosts Capital Kathmandu and other major cities such as Chitwan and Hetauda, has a contribution of 41.4 percent, the highest among the seven provinces.
In the current fiscal year, the province saw the lowest economic growth (5.7 percent) compared to other provinces. It has the highest multidimensional poverty (51.2 percent), poorest road network (2,687km), lowest hydropower generation (7.1MW), lowest number of industries registered (39), shortest life expectancy (66.8 years) and lowest number of schools (3,190).
Even before the country adopted federalism, Karnali as a region was largely neglected.
Sunar said they were planning to introduce some incentives in the upcoming budget for the provincial staff serving in remote areas.