Parliament should enact umbrella laws soon so that the provinces can recruit their staffers to run their administrations
Bureaucracy is the backbone of a government, which cannot function in the absence of the required number of staffers who are hired and deployed in their designations through the due processes of the law of the land. Till the country was declared a federal state, all the civil servants were managed by the central government from the top to the lowest levels. After the promulgation of the new constitution in 2015, the responsibility of the central government was to carve up the centralised bureaucracy into the central, provincial and local levels, thereby delegating its power to the sub-national levels in line with the new constitution. Certain powers are exercised by the central government while the others are delegated to the provincial and local levels as provided for by the constitution. It has been one-and-a-half years since the three tiers of elections were held. But the federal government has yet to enact some key umbrella laws that will allow the provincial governments to enact their own laws to govern themselves. The provinces have not been able to function independently as they have not been allowed to handle their own police force and bureaucracy.
As the Parliament has yet to pass the umbrella laws in these areas, the Centre has deployed the civil servants to the provinces and local levels until they are able to recruit their own employees through the provincial Public Service Commission (PSC). However, reports from many local levels suggest that the adjusted employees have been barred from attending office and discharging their duties by the concerned Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs). This goes against the constitution and Employee Adjustment Act endorsed by Parliament to contribute adequate number of staffers until the PSC becomes functional. The Centre recently concluded the adjustmentment of 100,031 civil servants in the three tiers of government. Under the new adjustment, as many as 84,409 posts were created in the Centre, 22,297 in the provinces and 66,908 posts in the 753 local levels. Still, more than 50 per cent of the posts in the local levels have yet to be fulfilled.
After receiving complaints that the adjusted staffers were barred from carrying out their duties, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) recently issued a circular to all the local levels to cooperate with the adjusted civil servants. The circular has said it is the duty of the CAOs to allow them to sign the attendance record and assign them their duties and responsibilities. MoFAGA has also warned of legal action against those not assigning duties to the adjusted staffers. The CAOs barred the adjusted staffers from reporting to their duties after the Local Level Employees’ Union opposed the double promotion given to the adjusted staffers. The union said it was discrimination against the local level staffers. This is the main reason why the CAOs have barred the adjusted staffers from joining office. However, adjustment of the employees is just a stop-gap arrangement. All the problems related to the civil service at the sub-national levels can be sorted out only after the PSC comes into force. The federal government must not delay in enacting the umbrella laws that will give the provinces the right to recruit their own employees.
No to ragging
Ragging is not seen as a big problem in Nepal’s colleges, but then police have held 1,638 students for indulging in it in the last two months, which is telling. The students were rounded up during a nation-wide anti-ragging campaign that began on April 26 so as to create a sound academic environment in the educational institutions. According to police, the students were arrested for bullying, ragging, manhandling and defamation.
Ragging here does not take the form it does in Indian colleges, where new students, especially girls, have been reportedly made to walk in their undergarments or even molested, driving them to suicide on some extreme occasions. In the case of Nepal, freshers, especially girls, have had to tolerate lewd comments and whistling from their seniors. In the past, girls were fair game days before Holi, the final day of the festival of colours, which made it impossible for them to attend college. But today, due to the strict vigilance maintained by the cops, harassment from an unsuspecting barrage of water-filled balloons is a thing of the past. The police must keep up the good work to stop bullying in the schools and colleges so as to maintain their ethos.
A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.