Federal government’s plan to hire staff for provinces hits a snagControversy over recruitment of employees at the local level has halted the plan, officials say
After the Public Service Commission’s move to recruit staff for local governments landed in a controversy, with the issue reaching the Supreme Court, the federal government has halted its plan to request the commission to recruit staff for the provincial governments as well.
In the wake of a critical shortage of staff at the local level, the Commission on May 29 announced a notice to recruit 9,161 employees for 515 local units at the request of the federal government.
But after the issue was embroiled in a controversy—that the Commission failed to ensure 45 percent reservation for the marginalised communities including indigenous nationalities, Madhesis, women, Dalits, and backward and disabled people—a House committee instructed the constitutional body to terminate the recruitment process.
Four writs have been registered at the Supreme Court, which has decided to conduct hearing on all of them in a package.
The controversy also prevented the federal government from requesting the commission for issuing a vacancy notice for staff recruitment in the provinces, which are also facing shortages of staff.
“After constitutional and legal questions arose regarding the recruitment drive at the local level, we are awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court to decide whether to make a request to the Commission to start the staff hiring process,” said Bhupal Baral, spokesperson for the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. “Had there not been any controversy, we could have already requested the Commission to initiate staff recruitment for the provincial governments.”
According to Baral, his ministry had received requests from Karnali Province for recruitment through the Commission as per the decision of the provincial council of ministers.
Karnali, the most impoverished and backward of the seven provinces, has been facing an acute shortage of staff as it was not the preferred province of the government employees during the adjustment process. Even the adjusted staff in the province didn’t register their attendance on time, prompting the provincial government to issue a warning notice in the name of such employees.
The province had sent a request to the Federal Affairs Ministry in Kathmandu to recommend 312 staffers, mostly technical officials through the central-level Public Service Commission.
Provincial officials said they were left with no option but to request the federal government to hire staff despite the fact that the Karnali Provincial Assembly has already passed a law to form the Provincial Public Service Commission, which is supposed to hire staff for the province.
“Office bearers at the Provincial Level Commission have not been appointed, regulation as per the law is yet to be formulated, and provincial civil service law has yet to be formulated. So we had to make the request to the federal government for staff recruitment,” said Dilli Raj Shrestha, under-secretary at the Karnali Chief Minister’s Office.
Provincial civil service law should be in line with the federal civil service law, a bill for which is being discussed at the federal parliament. Karnali has a total of 1,992 seats excluding health staff but only around 600 of them are currently serving, according to provincial officials.
The Sudoorpashchim provincial government has also sent a request to the federal government for fulfilling its vacancies. “We have asked the federal government to send us staff either through deputation or fresh recruitment,” said Narayan Prasad Bidari, principal secretary at the provincial government office.
According to Bidari, there are around 40 percent officials currently working in the province, of the 2,311 seats determined for the provincial government.
Most of the provinces have not got enough staff as determined by the organisation and management survey conducted by the federal government.
While Karnali and Sudoorpaschim, where government employees usually don’t want to go due to geographical remoteness, have sought more staff from the federal government, Province 5 is ready to wait until it has the mechanism to recruit its own staff.
“We have not sent any request to the federal government for staff recruitment in our province,” said Yamkanta Pandya, information officer at Chief Minister’s Office, Province 5. “Although we have just half of the total staff required, there is a plan to recruit staff once our Public Service Commission is formed.”