Provincial public service commissions yet to recruit officers for understaffed agenciesLumbini and Bagmati provinces have only recently issued vacancy notice
Last year, Karnali Province requested the federal government for recruitment of 312 staff for its various agencies through the Public Service Commission.
Staff crunch has affected the works of several government agencies in the province. However, the commission refused to entertain the idea of recruiting staff for provincial government agencies from Kathmandu. The response from the commission was understandable, given that it had faced widespread criticisms when it had tried to recruit over 9,000 employees at the local level at the instruction of the federal government.
Karnali Province requires over 25,000 employees for its various agencies to function smoothly, according to a survey. But the province currently has only 15,000 government staff.
“The shortage of technical staff has particularly put us in a difficult situation. Without their knowledge and expertise we are having difficulty taking policy decisions and inviting tender for development projects,” said Keshav Prasad Upadhyay, information officer at Chief Minister’s Office in Karnali Province.
According to the constitution, a provincial government should recruit staff for its agencies through its own public service commission. Karnali Province has yet to appoint the office-bearers in its public service commission that was formed a year ago.
It is not just Karnali Province that is reeling under the shortage of government staff. It is a problem that has been affecting all seven provinces.
In Lumbini Province, the first one among the provinces to set up its public service commission, the move to fill the staff vacancy has landed in court.
The provincial public service commission had issued a vacancy notice for 125 staff last month. But soon the notice was challenged by some government employees at the High Court, Butwal, and the Supreme Court.
The plaintiff party has argued that the vacancy should have been for the Grade 6 civil servants instead of the Grade 7. They have demanded that the commission initiate a promotion process and open competition to fill the vacant posts.
“The Supreme Court has invited both sides for a hearing on December 2. As for the High Court, it had issued a show-cause order which we have already furnished,” said Dilaram Bhattarai, chairperson of Public Service Commission, Lumbini.
Rajendra Thapa, secretary at the Chief Minister’s Office of Lumbini Province, says the provincial government had asked the commission to appoint doctors and engineers.
“We are facing a shortage of doctors amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The province is also lagging behind in the implementation of development projects due to the lack of engineering staff. So we had asked the commission to start the recruitment process,” said Thapa.
The Public Service Commission, Bagmati, has also issued a vacancy notice for a number of posts in provincial and local government offices. But the appointment process has not begun yet.
Other provinces, meanwhile, are yet to take any step towards staff recruitment, although the concerned provincial and local governments have long been complaining about the staff shortage.
Bhattarai, the chairperson of Public Service Commission, Lumbini, says the problem of staff shortage would not have been so bad had the federal government fulfilled its commitment of adjusting the existing government staff at the provincial and local levels.
According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, 40,409 government staff were adjusted in federal government offices while 14,659 and 31,043 were adjusted in provincial and local government offices.
Provincial governments are also struggling in the absence of the federal civil service law based on which the provincial and local governments are supposed to introduce their law concerning government services.
“Without the federal civil service law, we cannot have our own set of laws to govern the government services including staff facilities,” Bhattarai said.
For now, the Public Service Commission, Lumbini, has decided that the newly appointed officers will be based on the existing civil service law of the federal government.