Govt officials pitch for neutral bureaucracy

Kathmandu, July 26:

Government officials said today that a strong, neutral and committed bureaucracy was a must to maintain the rule of law and speed up the pace of development.

“Political interferences weakened the bureaucracy after 1990,” said Hem Sharma Pokharel, under-secretary of the Ministry of Local Development, presenting a paper titled ‘An Overview of the Indian Administrative System.’

“Even in India political interference in bureaucracy such as the transfer of employees in irrelevant positions has been a challenge,” said Pokharel.

Officials said decentralisation is the most effective tool for local development and that much could be learnt from Kerala’s decentralisation model, which transferred powers and resources from the state to the local government. That model, the officials said, could be used here to promptly deliver basic services to people and reduce poverty.

MoLD joint-secretary Mahesh Prasad Dahal presented a paper on ‘Democracy and Local Governance: Experience from India and its Relevance for Nepal.’ He said the efforts made in Kerala have opened up many avenues to institutionalise local governance functionaries within the State.

Ten local development officers and senior government officials shared their views about the challenges, opportunities and prospects for cooperation of local development in Nepal and India. The workshop was a follow-up of the study visits Nepali local development offices had made to India to exchange experiences and ideas.

Officials at the workshop concluded that the traditional mindset of some bureaucrats is a great challenge in the administration of both countries. With the Maoists’ parallel government functioning side-by-side during a decade-long conflict, the development process had slowed down, said MoLD secretary Ganga Dutta Awasti. “The suggestions from the workshop and the sharing of Indian local development initiatives would be incorporated in the policy making level,” he said.

The programme was organised by the MoLD, the Embassy of India and BP Koirala Nepal-India Foundation.