KATHMANDU, Sept 30: Sitting lawmakers as well as experts in the field of public service have said that lack of effective inter-ministerial coordination was severely affecting public service delivery and accountability in Nepal.
Addressing a virtual function organized by the Nepal Association of Humphrey Fellows (NAHF), they also argued that it was difficult to realize the goal to ensure sustainable development and good governance in the absence of effective public service delivery and accountability on the part of those in the government.
In his keynote speech, Former Health Minister and lawmaker of the main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), Gagan Thapa said public service delivery in Nepal was largely affected due to the tendency not to look at the problems through a holistic approach. "We have yet to adopt a systematic approach. We tend to work on addressing symptoms rather than on addressing the causes," said Thapa.
Thapa, who is also a popular youth leader, argued that part of the reason why service delivery in Nepal is not effective is because there are no set targets in government offices that deliver public services. "While the inter-ministerial coordination is severely weak, there is also lack of evidence of policymaking. These all have impeded service delivery in the country," he further said.
Thapa maintained that transparency, teamwork, evidence-based policymaking, and set targets for all government offices that deliver services to people. "We must look at the bigger picture. Bringing change in small issues may not necessarily help us achieve effective public service delivery and public accountability," he added.
Also addressing the function, National Assembly (NA) member Bimal Rai Paudel said that effective implementation of the constitution could help achieve effective public service delivery and accountability. While arguing that the government bodies that provide services to people do not have any punitive measures in place to make their employees accountable to service seekers, Paudel argued that performance evaluation measures of government employees should be introduced to ensure effective service delivery and accountability in the country.
Paudel, who also served as a member of the National Planning Commission (NPC) also said that there is also a need to ensure inter-ministerial coordination and implement policies that are based on evidence. "There is a deficit of trust between citizens and the state. Effective public service delivery is a must to address this gap," she further said.
Also addressing the function, NC Lawmaker Dr Dila Sangroula complained that there has not been any significant improvement in terms of service delivery and accountability even as the country embraced federal governance structures. "The dilly-dallying tendency and the practices of corruption have reached villages from Singha Durbar (i.e. the principal secretariat of the government). Worse still, there is no coordination between the three-tier of the government. This was exposed in the COVID-19 response," she argued.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu in Kathmandu Manuel P. Micaller, Jr., Deputy Team Leader at Economic Policy Incubator Hira Mani Ghimire, and the NAHF President Deependra Bickram Thapa also shed light on the importance of accountability and public service delivery. They also shared their experiences
The organizer said this is the first event of the Understanding Sustainable Development Series organized with the support of the US Embassy in Kathmandu. The program aims to help Nepal realize Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by bringing together experts from various fields to explore ways to achieve those goals.