Bureaucrats who resign days before their retirement receive salaries and an increase to their pensionsA clause in the Civil Service Act allows bureaucrats who joined civil service before November 6, 1992 to retire voluntarily and receive these perks.
Outgoing Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai resigned from his post on Friday, just six days shy of his retirement date, but he will continue to receive his salary, along with all perks and facilities, for the next two years, in addition to an extra Rs3,000 to his monthly pension.
Rai is not an anomaly; most senior and junior ranking bureaucrats put in their papers months or weeks—even days, like Rai—ahead of their retirement in order to continue to receive salaries and an increment to their pension. But according to former civil service employees, this is “unhealthy practice” and is only placing unnecessary financial pressure on state coffers.
According to Article 37 of the Civil Service Act, all bureaucrats who joined civil service before November 6, 1992, can choose to retire voluntarily after completing 30 years in service. The total service period of the employee who has so retired voluntarily from service shall be set by adding the remaining period as required for them to reach 60 years of age. For the remaining years, they will receive all perks and facilities.
Rai, who is currently 58 years of age, joined the civil service in 1990, so he is eligible for voluntary retirement provision. As he has resigned six days short of his retirement date, he will now receive two years of all perks and facilities, including his salary. Once the two years are complete, he will then begin receiving a pension with a Rs3,000 increment.
This provision, however, is applicable to only those who joined civil service before November 6, 1992, have completed 30 years in service and crossed 50 years of age.
“I have served a long time in the civil service so why not use the amenities provided by the law,” said a government secretary who retired three years ago after making use of the same provision.
According to one official who is currently involved in drafting an amendment to the Civil Service Act, the provision is going to be removed as it has placed a large financial burden on the state.
Lalbabu Pandit, former minister for general administration, confirmed to the Post that he had recommended that the clause be removed from the Civil Service Act via an amendment as it had invited several problems. According to Pandit, the approval of a bureaucrat’s voluntary retirement depends on the Cabinet, which decides based on its own inclination, regardless of the law.
“The Cabinet should not approve the resignation of civil servants who wish to take advantage of a facility that is ensured by law,” said Pandit, relating how two secretaries who had served their full term but reached 58 years of age were barred from receiving the same facilities.
According to Pandit, the Cabinet decides in favour of those bureaucrats who have links to the top political leadership.
“But the provision itself is unnecessary and has placed a burden on state coffers,” he said.
The government has been spending over Rs40 billion annually in pensions and a surge in pension payments over the last four-five years has been drying the state coffers.
In March 2018, while presenting the White Paper on the country’s economic situation, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had warned that the benefits enjoyed by retired employees had surged 156 percent in the last five years.
There is no exact data at the Department of Civil Personnel Records that shows how many civil servants have taken advantage of this provision.
Some senior bureaucrats say that until the law permits such a facility, civil servants will keep taking benefit, so it is better to remove the provision. Since bureaucrats who joined civil service before November 6, 1992 are few in number, the provision is going to be redundant very soon anyway, but amendments should be made regardless, they say.
“If the law permits such a facility, civil servants will definitely use it,” said former finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi. “But now that the government is working on a new amendment to the Civil Servant Act, this provision should not be retained.”
According to Kashiraj Dahal, who was chairman of the Administrative Reform Commission, such a provision enshrined in law does not constitute healthy practice as it privileges some bureaucrats while exempting others. The commission was an independent body formed by the Ministry of General Administration to recommend ways to make service delivery more effective. It submitted its report in 2016.
“High-ranking civil servants should not add financial pressure on the state in their days in retirement,” said Dahal. “If someone wants to retire voluntarily, they should do so a year in advance, not two or three days. This definitely does not burnish the image of civil servants.”