Government employees desert provincial and local governmentsKarnali Province faces a precarious situation of losing services of most of the current employees as they have been adjusted in other places
Adjustment of government employees at three tiers of government was supposed to end prolonged staff shortages at provincial and local governments.
But instead of solving the problem of staff crunch, the adjustment process appears to have aggravated the situation, as most government staff chose the federal government when they were given options.
Both provincial and local governments are set to suffer more due to staff crunch in the new fiscal year 2019-20, as employees who were deputed there have returned to the offices under the federal government.
Karnali Province, which hosts the country's most remote and impoverished districts, has been failing to attract staff for long and there are fears that it might lose even the services of the current employees, as most of them have been adjusted in other places.
“There are currently 52-53 employees working under my ministry,” said Minister for Physical Infrastructure Development Khadka Bahadur Khatri of Karnali Province. “Only three-four staff will remain at the start of the new fiscal year in mid-July as most of them have been adjusted elsewhere.”
Currently, the available staff at the Physical Infrastructure Development Ministry of Karnali Province constitute just 14 percent of total positions finalised by the Organization and Management (O&M) Survey conducted by the federal government. The survey suggested the ministry should have a total of 368 staff.
But as per the O&M survey conducted by Karnali Province recently, the ministry needs 698 employees.
In the next month, the ministry faces a situation where it will have only three-four staff.
“The situation is likely to worsen in the next fiscal year,” said Minister Khadka. According to him, his ministry is being deserted compared to other ministries of the province as it needs more technical staff who are in short supply.
The total number of employee seats approved by the federal government for Karnali Province government were 1,334, but only around 550 are currently employed there, according to Keshav Upadhyaya, spokesperson for Chief Minister’s Office.
Despite the impending situation, the provincial government cannot recruit the staff through the Provincial Public Service Commission. “The Provincial Assembly has passed a bill on establishing Provincial Public Service Commission, but it cannot make recruitment until the federal government introduces new Federal Civil Service Act,” said Minister Khadka.
So, the Karnali Provincial government recently asked the Federal Public Service Commission to recruit around 600 staff for the province.
Amid worsening situation, the Chief Minister’s Office issued a notice on May 27 in the name of the employees who had not reported to their respective offices in Karnali province after their adjustment.
It had also warned of stern action against them as per the law. The notice stated that most of the officials adjusted to the provincial government offices have not reached their destination.
Under Section 13 (3) of the Employees Adjustment Act, those employees not abiding by the government regulations face termination.
Upadhyaya said although some staff have reported to duty, their numbers remain few and far between.
The situation in Sudurpashchim Province is quite similar if not as precarious as that of Karnali. Currently, out of the total approved 2,311 employees for deployment in Sudurpashchim only around 850 are serving at offices there.
“The number of government employees is likely to go down as some employees, who have been adjusted under the federal government are set to leave at the beginning of the new fiscal year,” said Narayan Prasad Bidari, principal secretary at Chief Minister’s Office in Sudurpashchim Province.
Bidari, however, said that the number of employees joining the offices under the federal government is not too big. “It is less than 100,” he told the Post.
Employees adjustment has also become the bane of the local governments, as many of the government employees adjusted at the local level would be leaving the local governments at the start of the new fiscal year.
Jugal Rural Municipality of Sindhupalchok district currently has just one ward secretary in Ward 7. There are seven wards in the rural municipality.
“The only secretary will leave when the new fiscal year begins,” said Hom Narayan Shrestha, chairman of the rural municipality.
According to the National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal, as many as 1,844 wards of the rural municipalities are without secretaries. There are 3,201 wards in 460 rural municipalities.
“A large portion of the ward secretaries currently serving at rural municipalities is leaving their current offices following staff adjustment,” said Shrestha, who is also chairman of the association. “The employee adjustment produced quite the opposite result of what was thought initially,” he added.