Local bodies reluctant to induct deployed account officers
Kathmandu, May 19
Local bodies seem to be reluctant to induct account officers deployed by the federal government citing they will hire account officers through their own capacity.
During the adjustment of civil servants, the government had deployed the chief administrative officer and the account officer from the federal government. However, some local units have protested against the move of the federal government.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), the largest metropolis of the country, can be taken as an example. The government had deployed a government secretary as chief administrative officer and an undersecretary as the account officer of the KMC Office. However, the KMC Office has refused to allow the account officer to work.
“This is a clear case of lack of transparency and accountability,” said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.
Local bodies have started accusing the federal government of creating undue pressure on them as they now have the full right to appoint staffers as the country has already adopted the federal set-up.
However, sources say that the local bodies have been reluctant to induct account officers assigned by the federal government as the elected representatives want to hire an account officer who will obey their instructions.
“The local bodies could be a bit apprehensive about inducting account officers deployed by the federal government, as the officers may not heed the instructions of the mayor or the chair of the assembly,” a source at the Financial Comptroller General Office said.
The federal government has said that it will deploy joint secretaries as chief administrative officers in metropolitan cities, except Kathmandu, and in sub-metropolitans, and undersecretaries as account officers.
Undersecretaries will be appointed as chief administrative officers of the municipalities and officer-level staffers will be deployed as chief administrative officers of the rural municipalities, and civil servants just below the rank of chief administrative officer will look after the accounts.
As per a study of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, a total of 57,000 staffers are required in the local bodies and there is availability of only around 19,000 employees.
The federal government has already deployed 11,000 employees of the federal government to the local level and it has been doing so based on the needs of the local bodies.
The federal government has claimed that if it allows the local bodies to appoint account officers on their own, the local bodies may not be able to spend in a prudent manner and the amount in arrears could rise.
Ramu Prasad Dotel, spokesperson for the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), said that the OAG report of last fiscal 2016-17 had shown the arrears amount to be worth Rs 14.25 billion in local bodies, which was 7.9 per cent of their total audited amount of Rs 180 billion. He underscored the need of a proper audit system to identify the loopholes in the spending mechanisms.