Arcane laws can wait for a while

Kathmandu, August 24 :

Here’s a cogent example of how arcane laws and regulations, which could sometime throw problem for common man, fall short from stalling any undertaking under the sun when it is the civil servants who are involved.

No regulation can militate against their interests. Not even the arcane indeed. Here’s how.

The context is the hectic efforts on the part of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) to conduct a quinquennial labour survey — second after 1998 — and the Financial Regulation-1992, which does not allow payment of lodging expenses to civil servants if they happen to be on field work for over a week.

“Yes we are facing a crisis. The regulation does not allow payment of lodging expenses to civil servant on field duty for a period more than a week at a stretch. But chances are

the higher up authority may let us have our way on the issue” said Central Bureau of Statistics Deputy Director Rabi Prasad Kayastha, while confirming the anomaly involved and the need to relax the provision.

The extended field work seems to be a foregone conclusion since the task of data collection for the purpose will demand some over 100 CBS enumerators going around the country and compiling the information from over 800 Primary Sampling Units (PSUs)

once the survey, which will cost about $500,000, kicks off later this year.

There is another strand to the story, though.

The advent of a donor, efforts for which are currently underway, would mean that the Central Bureau of Statistics would be free to pay the enumerators not only extended lodging bill but also enhanced allowances which is ruled out now.

While the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is currently scouting for a donor, the Central Bureau of Statistics expects to launch the initial phase of the project with its own budget provided the higher up authorities agree to let the CBS make exception on lodging.

“The arrival of a donor would mean we will be able to pay encouraging allowance to enumerators. The allowance paid under the governing Financial Regulation is a pittance,” said CBS Deputy Director Kayastha.

The daily allowances paid under Financial Regulation add up to Rs 170 per day for officers and Rs 150 for non-officers.

Until a donor takes times to materialise, efforts are on to have the project launched with government funding.

The government had earmarked just over Rs 3 million for project designing, amid efforts to have the higher authority agree to a change of rule governing allowances.