Provincial govts gear up to recruit staff as center delays civil service act

Published On: September 27, 2018 06:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 27: With inordinate delay on the part of the federal government to enact Federal Civil Service Act that would pave the way for the adjustment of civil servants and the formation of a Provincial Public Service Commission (PSC) to recruit employees in vacant positions, provincial governments have lately initiated a process to recruit civil servants on contract basis.

The move comes amid dilly-dallying on the part of the federal government to enact the Federal Civil Service Act , despite an agreement in principle to adjust 42,000 civil servants under the federal government, 22,000 under provincial governments and the remaining 22,000 under the local governments. Additional employees required for the provincial and local governments are supposed to be recruited by the Provincial PSC as stipulated in the new constitution.

Absence of civil servants has directly affected the day-to-day work of provincial and local governments. While other provincial governments including Province 5 have warned that they would be forced to recruit civil servants on their own, Province 2 has actually developed a separate bill to recruit employees on contract basis.

The Province 2 government has cited delay in the adjustment of civil servants and likely further delay in the formation of the Provincial PSC as reasons behind its decision to formulate a bill for recruitment of employees on contract basis. The bill, however, will become automatically void once the Federal Civil Service Act comes into place.

Sources said a draft of the Federal Civil Service Act is currently pending at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers amid pressure from various interest groups within the civil service to incorporate provisions suited to their own interests. The main bone of contention in the draft bill has been the age limit of civil servants, the perks and benefits to be given to employees deployed under local and provincial governments and their overall career prospects.

A section of senior government officials has been lobbying to keep as many offices as possible under the federal government so that most of civil servants could be adjusted in offices under the federal government. Although the number of federal ministries has now been reduced to 22 from the existing 31 , the number of departments under the federal government could be reduced only to 54 from 64.

Former bureaucrats alleged that the current government had not given due priority to the enactment of a federal civil service act. “It seems the federal government wants to incite further conflict with the provincial governments. The inordinate delay on the part of the federal government to enact a civil service act is conspicuous,” said a retired government secretary asking not to be named.

While refuting the allegation that the federal government had accorded no priority to enacting a civil service act, Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit said they are working on it. “But for now, none of the provincial governments are allowed to recruit employees on their own. If they chose to recruit before the federal civil service act is enacted, it is their responsibility to dismiss them later ,” said Minister Pandit.

Officials said although a draft bill on the Provincial Public Service Commission and its working procedures has already reached the Prime Minister's Office, the government is yet to forward it to parliament for endorsement. The government had earlier also snubbed a PSC proposal to conduct examinations on a fast track basis to meet the need of civil servants by provincial and local governments.

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