It does not suit lawmakers who are trying to get Dashain allowance for themselves
Kathmandu, July 7
Lawmakers today urged the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives to drop the provision of the new Federal Civil Service Bill that allows civil servants to receive medical allowance without undergoing treatment for any illness.
Section 50 of the new bill stipulates that civil servants will get medical allowance as prescribed. It adds that civil servants who did not claim medical allowance during their service would be entitled to get additional amount apart from the earned medical allowance after retirement.
Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Pampha Bhusal told the panel that claiming medical allowance without undergoing treatment for any illness was akin to receiving bribe and hence this provision should be dropped.
Lawmakers Yashoda Subedi, Dila Sangraula, Mahesh Raj Gahatraj, Chhaka Bahadur Lama, Prem Suwal and Rajkishor Yadav also questioned the rationale of the provision and demanded its removal from the bill.
Some lawmakers said the provision was not justified as the government had built a civil hospital in Kathmandu where civil servants could get up to 50 per cent discount.
Section 50 of the new Federal Civil Service Bill, however, stipulates that notwithstanding anything mentioned in the bill, the government may initiate health insurance scheme for civil servants in place of medical allowance.
Secretary at the MoFAGA Yadav Koirala defended the bill’s provision, saying that the provision had been part of the existing law since 2013 and it was also an international practice.
Rule 94 of Civil Service Rules stipulates that a gazetted class employee shall be entitled to medical expenses equal to salary of 12 months, non-gazetted first class employee to salary of 18 months and employees below that level to salary of 21 months during his/her service period.
Lawmakers told the panel that civil servants could get the amount they receive at present under medical allowance from other headings but the medical allowance heading should be removed from the bill.
According to MoFAGA Spokesperson Bhupal Baral, serving civil servants were required to submit medical bills to get medical allowance, but retired civil servants were not required to submit bills. “If calculated in today’s monetary value, a section officer will get between Rs 350,000 to Rs 400,000. This amount is not unjustified because almost all civil servants spend lakhs during their service period,” Baral said.
Chairperson of Government of Nepal Collective Bargaining Authority Punya Prasad Dhakal said medical allowance was the only attractive allowance in civil service which most of the civil servants choose to receive after retirement and there was no rationale for lawmakers to oppose this allowance. “It does not suit lawmakers who are trying to get Dashain allowance for themselves to oppose civil servants’ medical allowance. After all, civil servants have to be ready to do government’s job at any time of the day when required,” he added.
He said the government should think of adding to pay and perks of civil servants rather than trying to reduce their allowances. There are around 80,000 civil servants and up to 2,200 of them retire every year.
A version of this article appears in print on July 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.