Nepal | October 20, 2019

Civil servant bill imperils future of federalism: CMs

Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, February 8

The new Federal Civil Servant Bill has riled provincial and local governments as it proposes to give the authority of appointing top officials at sub-national governments to the centre, which, many say, will thwart the process of institutionalising federalism.

The bill registered today at the Federal Parliament Secretariat by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration states that chief secretaries of provinces, secretaries of provincial ministries and chief administrative officials of local governments will be appointed by the federal government.

The bill also does not include any provision for the provincial and local governments to secure the right to appoint these officials in future. The bill states a human resource pool will be created at the centre to deploy employees in the provinces and local levels.

If the bill is endorsed by the Federal Parliament as it is, provincial and local governments will be under the control of officials appointed by the centre.

“These provisions of the bill are against the spirit of federalism,” said Karnali Province Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi. “Those deployed by the central government will be loyal to Singha Durbar and not to provincial or local governments. This is an attempt to nip federalism in the bud.”

CMs have long been calling on the federal government to allow sub-national governments to hire necessary human resources. “If the centre is not interested in empowering the sub-national governments, the future of federalism is doomed,” Shahi said.

The provisions of the new bill have also been opposed by municipalities. “The post of chief administrative official at the local level, for example, is similar to that of chief secretary at the centre. Since the federal government now has the power to appoint chief administrative officials, how can local governments function independently?” asked Deepak Babu Kandel, mayor of Palungtar Municipality in Gorkha and Gandaki Province coordinator of the Municipal Association of Nepal.

The Municipal Association of Nepal is planning to issue a press statement soon criticising the provisions of the new Federal Civil Servant Bill, according to Kandel.

Key provisions 

  • Officials of secretary level at the centre will be eligible to become chief secretaries in provinces, while officials of joint secretary level at the centre will be eligible to become secretaries in provincial ministries
  • Chief secretaries of provinces and secretaries of provincial ministries will be appointed on the basis of seniority and work performance
  • Officials with less than a year of experience as joint secretaries at the centre will not be deployed as secretaries in provincial ministries
  • The retirement age civil servants has been set at 58, except for those working as health service providers for whom retirement age has been set at 60
  • Civil servants who have been permanently transferred from the centre to provinces or local level will have to undergo internal competition to rejoin the federal government
  • Civil servants hired after enforcement of the law will have to make monetary contribution to be eligible for pension after retirement
  • Civil servants who have retired from the post of secretaries and joint secretaries will not be able to join any other organisation for two years without taking the government’s permission


A version of this article appears in print on February 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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