Government decision to create thousands of temporary positions draws controversyExperts say the move adds burden to the state coffers, already reeling under the corona pandemic.
The government has created thousands of temporary posts in various state entities in the last three months, despite its own decision to freeze the recruitment of new staffers in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government’s decision has been criticised not only by the Public Service Commission, but also by former bureaucrats and civil servants’ trade union leaders. The decision, which adds a burden of billions of rupees to the state coffers, is aimed at providing jobs to sympathisers of the ruling party, at a time when capital expenditure has taken a hit due to the pandemic, they said.
“If the government has renewed the tenure of people holding temporary posts, then that’s fine, but if it created new temporary positions, it’s a serious issue,” said Umesh Mainali, chairman of the Public Service Commission. Mainali said that the commission, authorised by the constitution to recruit civil servants, has frozen its recruitment process following the government directive to halt recruitment and call off organisation and management surveys at all levels of government.
According to two senior government officials, the number of new temporary positions created at all levels of government could be as high as 15,000. The real number remains unknown as data on the new positions is not available from a single source.
“Though the government needs to seek permission from the commission to hire temporary staffers, it hasn’t done so yet,” said Mainali.
On Thursday, Minister for Information and Communications Yubraj Khatiwada told mediapersons that the Cabinet created an additional 334 posts in the land reform and urban development ministries, but not in the Ministry of Health and Population, struggling to manage the pandemic.
Similarly, on July 26, the government decided to create 715 temporary posts under the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security with most of the new posts created for the Prime Minister Employment Programme.
The creation of such temporary positions go against statements made by government officials in the recent past. Finance Minister Yubraj Khatiwada himself had said during the budget discussion that the government was reeling financial pressure and even facing difficulties handling recurring expenses.
Employing temporary staffers to running projects and programmes is a very bad practice and should be done away with, said Shanta Raj Subedi, former secretary at the Ministry of Finance. “It would be understandable if temporary posts were created for large infrastructure projects,” he said. “Once someone is appointed to a temporary position, they get re-appointed time and again,” said Subedi.
Leaders of the civil servant trade unions have also raised concerns over the creation of temporary positions at various levels of government at a time when the Covid pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the state coffers, and several projects have been stalled. Several administrative reform commission reports, including the one submitted by Kashi Raj Dahal, have advised the government to stop hiring temporary staffers.
Gopal Pokharel, Nepal Civil Service Employees Union (Association) said temporary posts are created in civil service to employ people close to the ruling party and its leaders. “ Examples from the past show that temporary posts are created to employ people from the ruling party,” he said. “This time, we are a bit concerned about the huge numbers as it comes at a time when the public service commission has stopped its hiring process,” said Pokharel.
But officials defended the government saying that a significant proportion of the temporary positions were created to renew the contract of temporary workers after their tenure was over. Rajendra Poudel, spokespersons for the Office of the Prime Minister, and Uttar Kumar Karki, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, said that most of the posts in question were renewed after employees completed their contract period while some new posts were created for new projects.