Bureaucracy intertwined with politics ruins public service delivery

Published On: September 10, 2016 03:45 PM NPT By: Narayan Prasad Ghimire

KATHMANDU, Sept 10:  "It's because of unstable governments that the development activities have failed to accelerate thereby severely affecting the country as a whole. We (bureaucracy) are compelled to work with three governments in a year. Furthermore, as civil servants are unnecessarily indulging in politics, public service delivery has become ineffective. However, we are bound to work". 

This was part of the speech given by Chief Secretary of Nepal government, Dr Somlal Subedi, during a programme organized by the former employees' service council in the capital city on Friday. The chief executive of Nepal's bureaucracy was making the opinion two days after the Civil Service Day was marked in a grand manner across the country. 

The statement says it all about the state of affairs of our civil service, which is a composition of 82,000 people occupying in different echelons. Also clear on his opinion is the instability of governance which has left the developments at the receiving end. 

It is now evident how horrendous effect the politics has in Nepali bureaucracy! In this connection, one can't remain without wonder- Is politics that marauding which leaves severe stings on national development? And who actually bring in the politics in bureaucracy thereby fomenting fragmentation, imbalance and favouritism? 

To this end, a retired government secretary, Shyam Mainali, who spent 34 years in civil service, observes, "Growing trade unionism invited and entertained politics in bureaucracy in Nepal which made the civil service so dysfunctional that it is very difficult to repair it." 

Nepal is a democracy; to be more precise, we are liberal democracy. It is common that the rights of collective bargaining has due space on the State bodies to make the system more effective, efficient and stronger. But the retired secretary argues, "Yes, the formation of trade unions for collective bargaining is a global demand. But the trade unions in Nepali civil service have fully deviated from their track. Rather than focusing on professional rights, the advocacy for employees' transfers, exerting undue pressure on ministry secretaries and acting as the agents/brokers of affiliated political parties, has been the daily activities of trade unions. Therefore, many are arguing Nepal's bureaucracy gradually becoming defunct." 

Of course, as argued by the former secretary, most of all big political parties have their wings as trade unions in the civil service. The leaders of such dozens of trade unions prevailing not only in ministry (there are more than 2 dozens of ministries) but also in all government departments, divisions and corporations are enjoying their monthly pay without having to work for it. As the trade union employees are of the levels up to section officers which occupy large human resources within the civil service, the daily works are badly hampered and public service delivery almost ruined. Moreover, the unnecessary demands made frequently by the trade unions for additional incentives has caused severe dent to the State coffers. 

When inquired whether there are/were any measures taken to curb political interference inside bureaucracy, former secretary Mr Mainali further worried, "The Good Governance (Management and Operation Act) 2008 brought with rigorous efforts had clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of the secretary (bureaucracy) and ministers (Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister) in a bid to reduce unnecessary political meddling on the bureaucracy. But it was violated mainly by the ministers." 

The root of institutional corruption lies here in the violation of the Good Governance Act by the political leaders as they become ministers. In Nepali context, becoming Minister does not mean it is the public post for one to serve the needs of the people, formulate policies and expedite developments, but taken as the opportunity to grip bureaucracy with party interest and foster trade unionism to secure cash and thereby votes for next elections. It is however a long aberrations in Nepali politics. 

Another disgusting argument our political parties have been making for long to escape the bitter reality is- they could not do best for the country and people, as they had to fight against autocratic Rana regime, party-less Panchayat system and against suppressive monarchy. They even do not fail to hastily blame bureaucracy behind the failures in the country. 

It is the most irresponsible on the part of politics to blame bureaucracy for the escape. The political parties indulged in the very messy politics that lead to series of the formation of unstable governments- all in the name of people's rights. How much is too much? It has been eighteen years that there is no local body election in the country, which has badly affected the bureaucracy to deliver public service. It is connected to the point the Chief Secretary complained. 

Conclusively, the country at present is shouldering historic responsibilities. It is in dire need of formulating dozens of new laws and amending the old ones to implement the constitution; holding elections in three levels within the stipulated timeframe, and expediting the reconstructions activities along with the relief to the earthquake survival. In order to accomplish such major national agenda, collaboration of political leaders, ministers and the bureaucracy is essential. But keeping political interests and making bureaucracy a tool to fix in power would be a grave mistake for political leaders. Therefore, both the political parties and bureaucracy must improve attitude, behaviour and culture for good governance that the country has been lacking for long. RSS 


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