Nepal | December 07, 2019

Spouses of civil servants misuse extraordinary leave

Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, August 6

Spouses of overseas-based civil servants who also work for the government are misusing extraordinary leave to stay with their husbands or wives abroad, lawmakers of ruling and opposition parties told the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee today.

Civil servants married to those deployed in overseas Nepali missions generally apply for unpaid extraordinary leave up to four years to join their spouses in the foreign land, lured by extra income that they can generate.

“This is a wrong practice,” said ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Pampha Bhusal.

Spouses of civil servants recruited abroad are entitled to 15 per cent of the allowance earmarked for their husbands or wives. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides monthly allowance in the range of $3,800 to $5,800 to those working in foreign missions. This means a spouse of a civil servant recruited abroad generates monthly income of around Rs 150,000, which is considerably higher than the monthly salary of around Rs 30,000 that civil servants based in Nepal get. This is the reason why spouses of civil servants who also work for the government rush to join their husbands or wives deployed in the foreign land.

“These employees should be accountable to their jobs,” said opposition Nepali Congress lawmaker Amresh Kumar Singh. “They cannot take a leave of four years to do nothing.”

When employees take leave to join their husbands or wives, the position remains vacant and the government cannot initiate recruitment process to fill the vacant post either, according to Minister of Federal Affairs and General Administration Lalbabu Pandit. “This has been affecting day-to-day functioning of the government and public service delivery,” Secretary of MoFAGA Yadav Koirala said.

Nepal has 39 missions abroad, including three permanent United Nations mission, 30 embassies, and six offices of consulate generals.

Around seven per cent of the employees working in the foreign service are married to those working in the civil service, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Many spouses of civil servants recruited abroad even work illegally to generate extra income. This tarnishes the country’s image,” said another NCP lawmaker Khaga Raj Adhikari.

A version of this article appears in print on August 07, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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