The provincial Public Service Commission would have been the best way to hire employees for the local levels
The centre and the provincial governments seem headed for a collision yet once again, this time over the decision of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to recruit more than nine thousand employees for the local levels. The PSC had placed an advertisement in the Gorkhapatra daily on Wednesday for 9,161 posts to recruit employees for 515 local levels as demanded by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. The direct recruitment by the PSC is seen by the provinces as not only intruding in what is constitutionally and legally their domain but also as going against the principle of inclusion. Recruitment of the local level staffers should have taken place as per the provincial laws and constitutional provision. But the PSC invoked the “principle of necessity”, under the Government Employees Adjustment Act, to recruit them at a time when the provincial governments were about to enact their laws to govern the process of recruitment of local level employees. After having waited so long, why couldn’t the government wait for a few more months so that the provinces could come up with the needed laws?
In its advertisement, the PSC has allocated some seats for some clusters but not for all the clusters that qualify for reservation as provisioned in Article 42 of the constitution. As per Article 42 of the constitution, socially backward women, Dalit, indigenous people, indigenous nationalities, Madhesi, Tharu, minorities, persons with disabilities, marginalised communities, Muslims, backward classes, gender and sexual minorities, youths, farmers, labourers, the oppressed and citizens of backward regions and indigent Khas Arya qualify for reservation in government jobs. The PSC’s argument is that since it has treated each of the local levels as an independent autonomous body, as per the existing laws, it could not ensure inclusion of all the clusters as there were not enough seats in all the local levels. Had the reservation seats per cluster been allocated on the total number of posts, all the clusters would have been included.
Allowing the PSC to recruit the local level employees curtails the right of the provinces in more ways than one. It means 9,000 employees, recruited by the centre, will be working in the local level structures for the next 22-25 years. The new controversy might not have surfaced had the PSC in the first place told the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration that the recruitment of local level employees by it went against the constitutional provision and existing laws. The government has also shown little interest in pushing for the umbrella law to set up the provincial PSCs. This would have been the best way to hire local level employees. There has been constant friction between the federal government and the provinces with the former seeing the latter as no more than its extended wing, and so been unwilling to hand over power. Time and again, the centre has been seen to be giving short shrift to the provinces, which will not strengthen federalism in the country. When the centre itself does not abide by the constitutional provisions and the existing laws, it only gives room to the public to behave likewise.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has started setting up a Disaster Information Management System (DIMS), which will collect data, formulate policies and make key decisions on disaster risk reduction and management in the country. This system is vital in a disaster-prone country like Nepal, where hundreds of people get killed and are also displaced as a result of natural disasters every year. The DIMS will serve as a common sharing platform for the purpose of disaster risk reduction and management.
It will establish a strong linkage with all the concerned government agencies involved in forecasting, managing and assessing risks and responsibilities. The DIMS will have its own server providing support for disaster preparedness and response during emergencies. The ministry has said it will help reduce the disaster risk and help provide immediate rescue and relief operation. The database will provide real time data and information about hazards and disaster events taking place in any part of the country. All local levels will be able to access the DIMS, based on which they will be prepared to deal with the natural disasters in their localities. However, the data will turn useless if the local levels are not strengthened to tackle the disasters.
A version of this article appears in print on June 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.