With Prem Kumar Rai resigning, bureaucrats vie for home secretary positionThe home secretary is considered one of the most powerful positions in the civil service since the occupant is responsible for ensuring safety and security in the country.
Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai handed in his resignation on Friday, six days ahead of his retirement date, opening up the position for competition among half a dozen aspirant secretaries.
Rai resigned six days ahead of his retirement date to add an extra Rs3,000 to his pension, sources at the Home Ministry told the Post.
If any government secretary retires voluntarily before 58 years of age, they are eligible for an increment to their pension according to the Civil Service Act, said one former secretary. But even this provision is subject to approval from the Cabinet.
Rai will move on to become a commissioner at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority and will be promoted to head the anti-graft body once the incumbent chief, Nabin Kumar Ghimire, retires, according to an official at the Prime Minister’s Office. Rai is considered to have close relations with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as he advised the chief executive on many administrative and governance-related issues in the last two years.
The home secretary is considered as one of the most powerful bureaucratic positions as it heads three security agencies, all 77 District Administration Offices and works closely with the top state leadership, including the prime minister.
The chiefs of the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Intelligence Department all report directly to the home secretary on a regular basis. As all 77 chief district officers also report to the home secretary, the position is among the powerful ones in bureaucracy. The home secretary also has his say in key transfers in the police forces and the district administration offices.
As the Home Ministry is headed by former Maoist leader Ram Bahadur Thapa and Prime Minister Oli belongs to the former UML, both leaders will vie for appointing their favourites as the secretary, said another official at the PM’s Office.
“Who prevails, PM Oli or Home Minister Thapa, will determine the fate of the new home secretary as both leaders want their person in the position,” he said.
At least half a dozen secretaries have lobbied for the position but no decision has been taken yet, a joint-secretary at the Home Ministry said.
“We will probably have a new secretary by the end of next week,” he said.
According to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Home Ministry, CIAA Secretary Maheshwor Neupane, General Administration Secretary Yadav Koirala, Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, Land Management Secretary Surya Mani Gautam, Chief Administrative Officer at Kathmandu Metropolitan City Kedar Neupane and senior Joint-secretary Yek Narayan Aryal, who is currently serving at the Nepali Consulate in Kolkata, are in the race.
Neupane, Koirala, Adhikari, Gautam and Aryal are among the candidates most likely to be picked for the responsibility, said sources. Koirala and Aryal have served at the Home Ministry in the past so they are natural candidates for the secretary position.
Former home secretary Govinda Kusum said the post remains attractive because it is associated with power. “Home secretary gets maximum exposure because he or she has to work closely with the prime minister and other powerful leaders of the country,” said Kusum.
“Home secretary also looks after law, order and security of the country. The authority to mobilise security forces in case of any incident remains in the hands of the home secretary.”
Earlier, the home secretary had great resources for intelligence gathering at their disposal—Rs 50,000 per day in order to “mobilise sources”. That facility has been curtailed and the Intelligence Department has been put under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office since Oli became the prime minister. However, the head of the Intelligence Department continues to regularly brief the home secretary on various security-related matters.