How the inclusion policy will be affected in the staff recruitment drive at the local levelThe Public Service Commission says it cannot ensure representation of all the representatives as per quota because there is staff demand for one or two seats in most of the local governments at once
Public Service Commission Chairman Umesh Mainali faced angry lawmakers on Monday over the vacancy notice that was issued to recruit 9,161 staffers at 515 local governments, as they blamed the commission for undermining the spirit of inclusion.
During the Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance meeting held on Monday, lawmakers accused the commission of colluding with the federal government to deprive people of getting jobs at the local level under the inclusion policy.
As per the request of the federal government, the commission on May 29 issued the vacancy notice in the single largest recruitment drive ever to fill the vacant posts at the local units.
The lawmakers protested the recruitment plan stating that it was against the inclusion policy as envisioned by the constitution and Civil Service Act.
But Mainali defended the commission’s move saying that it acted as per the existing law.
“If Parliament makes another decision, it will be acceptable to the commission, as it is accountable to Parliament,” he told the lawmakers.
The crux of the matter
As per the Civil Service Act, 70 percent of vacant seats are filled through open competition while 30 percent is filled through promotion.
Of this 70 percent, 45 percent is set aside to be filled up after a separate competition among different clusters of communities for the purpose of inclusion.
As per the law, the quota for women has been allocated at 33 percent, followed by indigenous nationalities (27 percent), Madhesi (22 percent), Dalit (9 percent), Disabled (5 percent) and Backward Region (4 percent). The rest of the 55 percent is fulfilled through unrestricted competition.
But the commission says it cannot ensure representation of all these representatives as per quota because there is staff demand for one or two seats in most of the local governments at once.
“There should be demand for at least 28 staffs for the same position to ensure representation as per quota,” said Kiran Raj Sharma, spokesperson at the commission. “If we cannot give a chance of representation the first time, the left out cluster gets chance in another.”
But the local governments have limited staffs and most of them don’t have less than 28 staffs altogether. So it takes years for a post to become vacant. It means that if one group gets a chance, it may take years for another cluster to get a chance to be recruited from their quota.
“That factor is obviously there,” admitted Sharma. “Otherwise, an alternative law should be formulated to avoid such a situation.”
The commission sought to fulfill most of the seats at the local level through unrestricted open competition without giving space for 45 percent inclusion quota. It is because most of the local government sought to fill one or two seats this time.
“If there is a single seat to be fulfilled, priority is given to open competition because law has given majority (55 percent) share to the open competition,” said Sharma.
“If there is a vacancy for two seats of the same post, one goes for open competition and another is fulfilled through promotion. In the case of three vacant seats, one is fulfilled through open competition, another is fulfilled through promotion and the third is fulfilled through inclusion quota and goes to the women cluster.”
So despite vacancy announcement for over 9,000 staff at the local level, the disadvantaged groups, who have been assured of 45 percent quota, cannot enjoy this facility this time, as the commission has treated each local government as a separate entity and have sought staff separately.
A lawmaker at the House of Representative Mahindra Raya Yadav from Rastriya Janata Party Nepal said that the task of recruitment at the local levels should be given to the Provincial Public Service Commission as first priority. If the Public Service Commission at the centre is to start a recruitment process, it has to ensure accommodation of 45 percent quota for disadvantaged groups from total 9,161 seats.
But the commission claims that it will be against the constitution because the constitution has recognised local government as a separate government having the power to make their own laws.
But it has made it difficult for the commission to implement inclusion policy in line with the existing Civil Service Act. There have been protests from various marginalised groups against the planned recruitment drive terming it against inclusion policy of the country.
A group of people protested the planned recruitment drive in front of the commission's headquarters on Sunday. Indigenous Rights Body, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, has also protested the planned recruitment drive as it is against the fundamental right of socially marginalised communities of participating in the state bodies through principle of inclusion as per article 42 of the constitution.
An activist and lawyer Bikas Kumar Thakur dismissed the commission’s claim that the commission could not allocate quota of 45 percent for disadvantageous groups from total 9,161 seats.
“As the constitution has not allocated local governments’ rights to appoint permanent staff on their own, they cannot be considered as fully independent entities,” said Thakur. “So the Public Service Commission of the centre or province can combine the vacant seats at the local levels in a single basket and recruit people from various groups as per the inclusion quota.”
He also asked why the commission issued a vacancy notice with a single advertisement number if each local government should be treated separately.
In fact, before issuing the vacancy notice, the commission had anticipated this problem. So, it had sought the policy decision from the cabinet regarding whether to implement existing formulae for recruitment at the central level government.
“After the cabinet took the decision for implementation of existing system, we had issued the vacancy notice,” said a senior official of the commission.