Voluntary retirement scheme likely to get delayedThe Voluntary Retirement Scheme launched for the government staffers unwilling to participate in employees adjustment process, may not be implemented this fiscal year with the ongoing organisation and management (O&M) survey to determine the number of offices and employees at three layers of the government is likely to take at least six months to complete.
The Voluntary Retirement Scheme launched for the government staffers unwilling to participate in employees adjustment process, may not be implemented this fiscal year with the ongoing organisation and management (O&M) survey to determine the number of offices and employees at three layers of the government is likely to take at least six months to complete.
The scheme started by the previous government, led by Sher Bahadur Deuba as per the Employees Adjustment Act, has invited strong criticism from Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lalbabu Pandit due to high cost involved in retiring large number of government staffers. However, senior officials of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) said that the government should not worry about fund this fiscal year because the VRS is not getting implemented due to time constraint.
“Only after concluding O&M survey, staff adjustment process and VRS implementation will come into effect,” said a senior MoFAGA official.
The O&M Survey committee, headed by MoFAGA Secretary Shankar Prasad Koirala, has been conducting the central level survey at 21 ministries. The committee formed on March 12 has been authorised to conduct survey of government offices that will remain under central government, provincial and local offices within next six months.
As per Employees Adjustment Act, those participating in the VRS are entitled to get pension for seven years collectively and additional pensions beyond seven years as per the law. The government will have to make payment of over Rs30 billion for retiring 9,656 government employees including five secretaries and 38 joint secretaries who have applied for VRS, according to the Finance Ministry.
Although the payment to be made to the government staffers is not new liability to the government, the new Oli government has been reluctant to implement it due to the necessity of paying the amount at once. “If the VRS is implemented in the next fiscal year, the government might be able to generate resources,” the MoFAGA official said. Considering the shortage of fund at the moment, the Finance Ministry has made it clear that it cannot afford to pay the entire amount this fiscal.
Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari told the Post on March 19 that the ministry could arrange the fund on instalment basis only.
Officials of the employees union said that they were in favour of the implementation of the VRS as per the law.
“If the government does not have the fund at its immediate disposal, there can be alternative such as providing fund on instalment basis or making payment in the form of bonds,” said Punya Prasad Dhakal, chairman of official trade union of the civil servants.
Besides concern over high cost, Minister Pandit has been telling that experienced staffers would not be allowed to leave the government through VRS.
However, Dhakal questioned whether retaining the want-away staffers would encourage them to work as desired by the government.
Although Minister Pandit has been speaking against VRS, officials at the MoFAGA said that no discussion has taken place so far regarding the matter. “Despite many noises on the VRS, no discussion has taken place at the ministry regarding it,” said MoFAGA spokesperson Shivaram Neupane.