Kathmandu, February 8
Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties today opposed the Civil Servants Adjustment Bill in the House of Representatives, terming it anti-federalism. This bill has to replace the civil servants adjustment ordinance brought by the government within seven days.
Taking part in theoretical discussion on the bill in the Lower House today, ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Rekha Sharma said the bill’s provision that allowed the prime minister to appoint secretaries in provinces was against the spirit of federalism.
“Provincial ministers are appointed by the chief minister and if provincial secretaries are allowed to be appointed by the PM as proposed in the bill, how can bureaucrats be made accountable to provincial governments?” she wondered. She said the ordinance brought by the government had some flaws that should be rectified in the bill.
NCP lawmaker Gajendra Bahadur Mahat blamed bureaucrats for bringing the flawed bill. “Bureaucrats are trying to fail the government. If the government fails to adjust civil servants properly, two-thirds majority government is doomed to fail,” he warned.
NC lawmaker Sanjay Kumar Gautam said the bill was brought with unitary mindset. “It shall not be implemented without improvement and amendment,” he said.
Another NC lawmaker Dilendra Prasad Badu said civil servants should be permanently adjusted to different tiers of the government. “Provincial secretaries and local level chief executive officers should not be deployed by the federal government,” he said.
NC lawmaker Bharat Kumar Shah said the bill was prepared with unitary mindset and it contained discriminatory provisions.
“Federalism cannot be implemented if chief district officers are under the federal government’s control. If this bill is passed, it will sabotage federalism,” he said.
Shah added that CDOs, police chiefs and secretaries should be under provincial governments. “Some bills brought by the government recently do not give even chief ministers the power that zonal commissioners enjoyed during the Panchayat system,” he said.
NCP lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said the bill contained unfair provisions as joint secretaries of provinces would not be transferred to the federal government. “This means a joint secretary working for provinces will never rise, whereas his/her batchmates or federal employees of his/her level can rise to the top rank of secretary in the federal government,” he argued.
NCP lawmaker Yeshodha Subedi Gurung said the committee formed to complete civil servants’ adjustment should be led by a minister and not by a bureaucrat.
Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari responded to lawmakers’ questions on behalf of Minister of Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit in the House today.
“Provincial secretaries will be sent by the federal government till the Provincial Civil Service Bill is enacted into law. This provision is just for transitional management,” Adhikari told the House.
Clause-wise discussion on the bill in the parliamentary panel is in the offing.
As per government’s data, 77,000 government employees have applied for adjustment and of them, 35,000 have chosen to be adjusted in the federal government, 14,000 in provincial governments and 27,000 in local governments.
A version of this article appears in print on February 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.