May 29, 2019 07:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, May 29: Parliament's State Affairs Committee has been mulling over hiring some government secretaries and joint secretaries on contract, breaking with the tradition of appointments through the promotion of career bureaucrats.
The committee failed to reach any conclusion on Tuesday after lawmakers were divided over whether to add a provision for hiring top government officials on contract and revising the Federal Civil Service Bill to that end. The provision has been under discussion in parliament for a long time.
Lawmakers lobbying hard for hiring top officials on contract argued that competent individuals can be hired on contract to ensure better performance. Five lawmakers including Pampha Bhusal, Nawaraj Silwal, Maheshwor Gahatraj and Tirtha Gautam of ruling Nepal Communist Party and Dibyamani Rajbhandari of main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) have registered an amendment to the bill demanding a provision for hiring secretaries and joint secretaries on contract to fill up to 33 percent of the total number of vacant positions at those levels.
The original bill registered by the government has barred hiring individuals on contract except for computer operators, peons and drivers .
“We shouldn't be rigid over the recruitment process for government secretaries. I can name at least 10 under-performing secretaries who came up through the public service commission process,” said former minister and NCP lawmaker Janarda Sharma during committee deliberations on the bill . He was of the view that even the chief secretary can be hired on contract to ensure better performance . “I have suggested to the provincial governments to hire competent persons as secretaries and pay them well if they deliver,” he added.
NCP lawmakers Bhusal, Silwal, Jhapad Rawal and NC lawmakers Dilendra Prasad Badu, Sujata Pariyar also stood in favor of hiring a certain percent of top officials on contract. But some lawmakers including Ram Kumari Jhakri were of the view that the hiring process alone doesn't ensure the appointment of the right persons for top positions.
“Let's look at the situation at public corporations. Have those entities seen any exciting results just because of the provision for hiring their chiefs on contract?” asked Jhankri of NCP, who was invited to the committee for discussions on her amendment.
NCP lawmaker Brijesh Kumar Gupta suggested appointing secretaries through open competition instead . “If we are worried about incompetent bureaucrats, we should provision for appointing secretaries through open competition and intra-service competition instead of hiring them on contract,” he said
Lawmakers registering the amendment to the bill have also suggested appointing individuals on performance contract for two years with a term extension option for another three years. They have sought a master's degree or higher education with distinction as qualifications for such appointments.
Responding to lawmakers' concerns at the committee, Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lalbabu Pandit said the ministry is open to ensuring better delivery by bureaucracy through changes in the hiring modality.