Kathmandu, October 12
The central government has dispatched separate teams to all seven provinces to look into the problem of civil servants who have not received salaries since the beginning of this fiscal.
Civil servants transferred from the centre to provinces in the current fiscal are deprived of monthly pay due to poor coordination between the federal and provincial governments.
The civil servants, who are not getting paid, were on the central government’s payroll when salaries were allocated to them through the annual budget. But when they were relocated to provinces, the ministries under the central government failed to transfer their salaries to the accounts of provincial governments.
“This problem is unique to civil servants who were transferred this fiscal,” Gandak Province Chief Secretary Laxmi Ram Sharma said. “Officials who were relocated from the centre to provinces in the last fiscal are not facing this problem.”
The central government transferred an average of around 1,500 staffers to every province since the beginning of this fiscal, meaning around 10,500 civil servants have not received salaries of almost three months. This is expected to hit them during Dashain, the biggest festival of Hindus, when household spending surges.
“The central government has dispatched a three-member team comprising officials of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, the Ministry of Finance and
the Financial Comptroller General Office to every province to look into this issue,” Federal Affairs Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said. “The salaries would be released once these teams report to us. It will not take more than a day or two to resolve the issue.”
The problem, according to Thapaliya, would not have surfaced had the provincial governments provided salaries to the staff from their own coffers and sought reimbursement later. “But they chose not to do that,” he said, hinting at trust deficit between the federal and provincial governments.
Provinces, on the other hand, said they could not act on this issue because their organisational structure had not been approved. Provinces are not sure about the number of ministries and offices they will house and staff each ministry and office will employ. This implies staff transferred from the centre may be relocated again once the organisational structure is finalised.
“How can staff transferred from the centre to provinces get salaries when the number of offices has not been finalised?” Province 3 Finance Secretary Kebal Bhandari wondered.
The central government was supposed to finalise the organisational structure of provinces by the end of last fiscal. But since then the deadline has been postponed to mid-January due to delay made by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.
Nepal’s public administration has been facing a number of problems since the country officially shifted from unitary to federal system of government following completion of federal, provincial and local elections in December.
A version of this article appears in print on October 13, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.