Govt to stop hiring joint secretaries thru open competition

Kathmandu, June 22

The government is planning to close the doors of bureaucracy for people, usually professionals, who wish to join the civil service as joint secretaries, as there is a lukewarm response to the scheme introduced some two decades ago.

The draft of the ‘Bill on Formation and Operation of Federal Civil Service, and Management of Terms and Conditions of Civil Service’ states that no outsider will be allowed to join the civil service in the capacity of joint secretary, according to Minister of Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit. If the draft bill, which has been forwarded to the law ministry, is signed into law, the federal government will stop hiring joint secretaries through open competition.

The government had introduced the system of allowing general citizens, especially professionals, to take exams and join the civil service as joint secretaries in 1996. The idea was to attract fresh talent at the policy-making level.

“But the scheme was able to attract very few people,” said Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. Dipendra Bikram Thapa, Janak Raj Joshi, Tulasi Sitaula, Shankar Koirala and Bimal Koirala are some of the bureaucrats who joined the civil service as joint secretaries through open competition. Joshi, Sitaula and Shankar Koirala went on to become secretaries, while Bimal Koirala retired as a chief secretary.

“It is not a good idea to withdraw the scheme,” said Bimal Koirala. “The government could instead make necessary changes to the hiring process to give continuity to this scheme, as it can attract talented people from the private sector and other fields.”

But the provision that enables candidates to join the bureaucracy as joint secretaries have its drawbacks as well, claimed Thapaliya.

“The provision, for example, allows gazetted officers with at least seven years of experience in civil service to vie for the post of joint secretary. This has prompted many government staffers to prepare for exams during office hours, which hampers office work,” Thapaliya said, adding, “These gazetted officers, who are promoted to joint secretary, also do not have to work as under-secretaries. This lack of experience turns into a handicap.”

Now, the government is mulling over allowing civil servants who have worked as under-secretaries for at least four years to vie for the post of joint secretary. Currently, under-secretaries with five years of experience can apply for the post.