Govt proposes to curtail PSC’s autonomy

Kathmandu, January 11

The government has registered a new bill at the Parliament Secretariat proposing to curtail the financial and administrative powers of the Public Service Commission, which is an independent constitutional body.

If the Public Service Act Bill is enacted into law without amendment, the PSC will lose its major powers it has been exercising for the last 58 years.

The bill, which was registered at the Parliament Secretariat, will be tabled in the House soon.

PSC Chairperson Umesh Mainali and other office bearers have been lobbying Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada and State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Chairperson Shashi Shrestha to drop provisions from the bill that curtail PSC’s powers.  The PSC office bearers today told Shrestha to consider their demands during the discussion in the parliamentary panel.

PSC member Ashok Kumar Jha told THT that the bill’s provisions would adversely affect PSC’s capacity, fairness, confidentiality, inclusion and neutrality. According to him, the government has not responded yet to the PSC’s concerns.

Although the first draft of the bill was prepared by the PSC, the government changed the contents of the bill proposing to curtail PSC’s powers and autonomy.

Under the existing laws, the government cannot transfer PSC staff without the consent of the PSC and the PSC can ask the government to send particular employees from different ministries to do its jobs, but the new bill proposes to end this, according to Jha, who has worked at the PSC for 35 years — first as a staffer and then as a commissioner. He said the PSC used to evaluate a staffer’s capacity to maintain confidentiality, neutrality and office’s sensitivity for five years before allowing him/her to work in sensitive units of the PSC, but the new bill will allow the government to transfer PSC staff anytime and bring staff from other offices to PSC anytime.

According to Jha, at times PSC staff has to stay in office round the clock for days, particularly during civil servants exams.

“If the government transfers such staff, the PSC will not be able to do its job properly and cannot maintain the confidentiality of examination process”, Jha said. He said the PSC needed to ensure extra incentives to staff who work extra hours during exams.

The new bill proposes that the PSC should approach the finance ministry to get the necessary budget released, but in the past, the PSC used to get the necessary budget at one time.

Former chief secretary Bhoj Raj Pokharel said the government should have held consultations with the PSC before revising the draft bill.