EDITORIAL: Ad hoc measure

The government should have finalised the adjustment of employees before the elections as per the Dahal report

It took seven years to promulgate the new constitution on federal line. The first Constituent Assembly (CA) failed to adopt the constitution though it set principles on federalism. The second CA adopted the constitution within its deadline on September 20, 2015. The major political parties which had a say in drafting the constitution spent much time on political and constitutional issues. They, however, did not discuss in details restructuring of the civil administration in line with the federal structure. One year after the new constitution came into force, the High-level Administration Reforms and Monitoring Committee, led by Kashiraj Dahal, submitted its report to the Pushpa Kamala Dahal-led government on December 6, 2016, stressing the need to restructure the public administration, working style and evaluation system to ensure effective service delivery, sustainable peace, development, good governance and prosperity as envisaged by the constitution. The report has suggested overhauling the administration so that the service delivery can become effective at local and provincial levels and development works can be expedited without any delay. The report has also given specific references as to where and how various sectors needed reforms. The centralised administration needs to be decentralised at federal, provincial and local levels, adjusting the civil servants as per the requirements of the local governments.

As the government did nothing on administrative reforms as per the report on time, well before the three tiers of elections, it will take at least one year to adjust employees and make services available at the grassroots levels for want of adequate number of human resources. There will be a shortfall of employees at all levels as the government passed an Act in August to give voluntary retirement to those who have crossed 50 years of age and served for more than 20 years. It is not known how many of them will opt for retirement as the 45-day deadline, issued three weeks ago, to apply under voluntary retirement scheme is yet to expire. The District Administration Offices will send the first list of the employees one week later to the Ministry of General Administration.

A draft on Civil Servants Adjustment Regulation, which is being considered by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for the last two months, has proposed forming a survey panel to be led by a former secretary to recommend the modality for adjustment of the civil servants. The panel will be able to recommend the modality of adjustment only after six months if it starts its work right now. It is necessary to endorse the regulation to form the panel conducting a survey to know about the needs and resources at all levels. The temporary adjustment of civil servants will not be able to deliver services to the service seekers and, they also will not be able to execute development works as envisaged by the local and provincial governments. The Ministry of General Administration has deployed only 500 civil servants in all provinces as a temporary measure to run offices of governors, chief ministers, provincial cabinets and assemblies. The federal government should have finalised the adjustment of employees well before the elections as per the Dahal report.

Karnali drought

Acute food shortage is looming large over Bajura, Humla and Mugu districts of the Karnali region, as fertile farmlands have turned barren due to the prolonged drought. Locals in the region have not cultivated their farmlands for the past four years. The Karnali region gets its name from the Karnali river that originates in the Tibetan plateau and enters Nepal as Humla Karnali before joining the Ganga River in India. But it’s an irony that the region which is named after a river faces perennial drought. Karnali districts largely depend on rainwater for farming.

Locals in these Karnali districts are on the verge of facing severe food insecurity. This, however, is not the first time drought and food insecurity have plagued Karnali districts. The region has remained neglected for years, even as locals and leaders have time and again drawn Kathmandu’s attention to their plight. Development assistance has been there, but it won’t resolve the chronic levels of food insecurity in the region. A more measured and integrated approach is required. That the local governments are in place now, focus should urgently be put on addressing food insecurity so as to save Karnali locals from going hungry.