EDITORIAL: Undemocratic move

Ordinance on civil servants by govt not only undermines Parliament but also leaves underlying problems unaddressed

Amid concerns — and opposition — from various quarters, the government on Tuesday moved ahead with its decision on an ordinance related to adjustment of civil servants in three tiers of government — local, provincial and federal. Almost one year into the federal and provincial elections, there are no laws in place yet for hiring civil servants. Since the federal parliament has yet to enact the umbrella law for hiring and management of civil servants, provincial governments have not been able to bring their own laws. And the pressure is building — day-to-day functioning of provincial and local governments has been hugely affected. Already the country faces a shortage 14,000 civil servants. According to a minister, the government pushed the ordinance “to ease” the shortage of civil servants at provincial and local levels as the winter session of the Parliament has not yet begun. Here lies the catch.

One of the most important issues that should have been dealt with after the federal Parliament was elected was passing the necessary umbrella laws — so as to make it easier for provincial assemblies to bring their own laws accordingly. But that did not happen. Just as provincial governments were in place, they needed staff to carry out duties and responsibilities. The budget session of federal Parliament was prorogued on September 27, and as of now there are no signs of commencement of winter session. The House session is unlikely to begin before mid-January. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as well as former government officials have criticised the government for delaying the Parliament session and seeking an easy route of ordinance. Last week, Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lal Babu Pandit had skipped a meeting of the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee to avoid the possible grilling he would have faced over the government’s plan to bring an ordinance to adjust civil servants.

The government, however, has failed to pay heed to calls for not bringing an ordinance. Yes, adjustment of civil servants is something urgently required. But to address a pressing issue, the government cannot make an undemocratic move. The government should have tried to call the House session at the earliest and fast-track the process of enacting necessary laws so as to facilitate hiring of civil servants at provincial and local levels. But rather, it has chosen to push the ordinance at a time when the House is in recess. The ordinance is just a quick fix which leaves the underlying problems unaddressed. Not to mention, an ordinance is an utterly undemocratic practice which undermines the sovereign Parliament and takes away lawmakers’ right to participate in discussions. The ordinance is now pending at the Office of the President, as President Bidhya Devi Bhandari is currently in Poland to participate in the 24th UN Climate Change Conference. She is scheduled to return today. The government should reconsider its ordinance and call the House session at the earliest. Running the administration through ordinances when Parliament is very much in place is an undemocratic practice. The government must not bypass the sovereign Parliament.

Address the concerns

The Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City’s plan of developing an Integrated Waste Management Centre (IWMC) at Baiyabehadi has been in limbo due to fierce protest from the locals. The protest has also affected the work plan of regional urban development project which aims to effectively manage waste in the sub-metropolis. The IWMC is being developed under the financial assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

As per the agreement reached between the ADB and the federal government there should not be any kind of dispute over the project site selected by the sub-metropolis. The plan has it that pre-construction work including design and estimates should be finalised by the end of this fiscal before starting the construction work. Waste management is a challenging task for all municipalities due to lack of their expertise and technology to handle it. The sub-metropolis officials must take the locals into confidence before starting the project. The locals are particularly worried about impending pollution of the area if IWMC comes into operation. This is a genuine concern the concerned authorities must address.