KATHMANDU, May 18 What type of public administration has the first draft of the new constitution proposed? Will it be service-oriented? Will people have right to remedy for improper conduct on the part of any civil servant? Will it be able to curb over-politicisation of bureaucracy and red-tapism? Despite some changes, the draft constitution does not have sufficient bases for reforming problems plaguing the country’s public administration. A three-tier public administration — federal, provincial and local (VDC and municipality) level — has been proposed. Recruitment, promotion and transfer for federal and provincial administrations will be made by federal Public Service Commission and provincial PSC respectively and local bodies will have to manage administrative staff themselves as per the draft constitution. The PSC will also handle recruitment, promotion and transfer of permanent government staffers in army, police, government universities, other government services and public corporations with 50 per cent or more government share or holding. Although, role of PSC in recruitment, promotion and transfer of government staffers is clearly mentioned in the constitution, Article 242 (2) states the PSC’s role in other government services will be determined by the concerned laws. In the backdrop of aforementioned provisions, there is much room for improving the administrative system for bettering governance. “If a government staff is involved in malpractice, improper conduct and dilly-dallying, which body will be responsible for providing remedy? Many countries including the US, UK, and Australia have provisioned the system of Ombudsman to proceed against public authorities on behalf of citizens. However, the draft constitution has no such mechanism and the existing mechanisms such as Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and National Vigilance Centre are not clearly mandated with this task,” said Keshav Raj Pande, general secretary of Public Administration Association Nepal. Remedy without right is meaningless, so right to remedy should be mentioned under fundamental rights itself, he said. Kashi Raj Dahal, chairman of High-level Administration Reform Monitoring Committee, said, “Since the draft constitution is a document of compromise, many provisions are complex and ambiguous and do not contain proper values of constitutionalism. Same is the case with provisions related to public administration. If they are not corrected, the new statute will not work.” Excessive politicisation of bureaucracy, no demarcation between duties and roles of political leadership and government employees and inappropriate size of administration are major issues that need to be corrected, Dahal said. “However, the draft constitution has no clear guidelines,” he said. Mandate for recruitment, promotion and transfer of staffers of local bodies has been given to local bodies themselves and it is the currently practiced system. However, it has not been managed by any specific guiding principle. So, there should be separate Local Body Service that can manage staff,” Dahal said. Constituent Assembly’s Constitution Drafting Committee member from Nepali Congress Ramesh Lekhak said, “We have not made radical changes in public administration system apart from the three-tier system. Administrative powers will be delegated to provinces and local levels under this system. However, we can change the systems on the basis of future experience even if it means formulating related laws.” Another CDC member from Unified CPN-Maoist Ram Narayan Bidari said the draft constitution was not progressive in terms of public administration reforms. “It is necessary to make PSC and CIAA powerful for efficient service delivery,” he said.
Draft Constitution: Governance issues not addressed
Published: 07:44 am Jul 19, 2015