Parliamentary panel directs government to terminate staff recruitment process

2019-06-11

The Kathmandu Post

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KATHMANDU : Following widespread criticism, the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee has directed the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development and the Public Service Commission to terminate the ongoing staff recruitment process claiming that it was against the spirit of the constitution.

On May 29, the constitutional commission published a notice announcing vacancies at 515 local governments. 

Since the announcement, the service commission received applications from 73,113 people for 9,161 vacancies with the local federal units. 

As soon as the notice was published, stakeholders including provincial governments and rights groups started opposing the hiring process, claiming that it violated the spirit of the constitution, especially the principle of inclusiveness.

Most lawmakers in the parliamentary committee including those representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) were against the hiring process arguing that it violated constitutional provisions. They had demanded that the process be annulled. They were also concerned over the government’s move as that created a controversy against the “clean” constitutional body.

“Since the advertisement published on May 29 was against the spirit of the constitution, the committee directs the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development to revoke the advertisement,” said Shashi Shrestha, chairperson of the State Affairs Committee, following the meeting with Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Lalbabu Pandit. However, the minister, who had skipped the meeting for more than five days, delaying the decision, had defended his move.

The committee also directed the ministry to determine the exact number of vacancies at the local level through an organisation and management survey involving the respective provinces and local units and to identify their necessity and special needs before filling the positions following the inclusive principle.

For managing the workload of the local level, the committee has decided to direct the ministry to deploy employees from the pool at the centre and to hire new staffers on contract basis until permanent employees are recruited.

Local councils were criticised for failing to perform well even after some two years of their formation while the local authorities blame a lack of necessary human resource for their shortcomings.

Hom Narayan Shrestha, chairman of the National Association of Rural Municipalities of Nepal, said the latest decision of the parliamentary committee could delay the recruitment process, noting that the association was happy with the earlier recruitment plan because they had hoped it would deliver the required staff within a few months,However, with the committee suggesting a way for handling the workload at the local level, the association would not go against the new developments either.

Some experts, however, express fear that allowing the local level to hire staff on contract basis could invite nepotism and suggests that they follow certain standards in the process.

“The government should set a standard to avoid arbitrary recruitments at the local level but we don’t want the central government to unconstitutionally infringe upon the rights of local governments,” said Shrestha.

According to the Public Service Commission, it has received 72,295 applications in the open category, 17,939 for women, 8,655 for Janajati, 4,129 for Madhesi, 538 for Dalit, 41 for disabled and 19 for the disadvantaged region quotas. Claiming that the advertisements were published for each of the local units, the commission had defended that the quota allocation for all had been difficult. But the commission and the ministry failed to convince the stakeholders including the political parties and the lawmakers about the allocation of seats.

Asked how the ministry would respond to the committee’s decision, Secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development Yadav Raj Koirala said the ministry would hold discussions with the authorities—including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli after he returns from Europe. 

“It’s not the responsibility of our ministry alone to implement federalism. We will consult with authorities including the prime minister besides legal experts on ways to avoid a disaster,” said Koirala.

However, the Public Service Commission has not taken any decision in response to the committee’s decision. Addressing the committee meeting, PSC Chairman Umesh Mainali had told lawmakers that they had started the recruitment process based on the ministry’s directive.

Commission Spokesperson Kiran Raj Sharma said the decision had yet to reach them and that necessary decisions would be taken after holding a board meeting.