Provincial governments have been complaining that the constraint has affected their daily operations, resulting in poor service delivery.
Three teams headed by secretaries at the Prime Minister’s Office that recently studied the situation at the provincial headquarters concluded that many offices, including the chief minister’s, don’t have enough workers. Among the seven state governments, three—in provinces 5, 7 and Karnali—have less than 50 percent staff against the total sanctioned posts, according to the PMO.
Earlier this month, the secretary-led teams visited the provincial headquarters to monitor the organisational set-up and the policies, laws, and resource management.
Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, the secretary who visited provinces 5, 7 and Karnali in the first week of August, said the provinces faced a severe shortage of staff, particularly in technical departments. “The availability of technical manpower such as engineers in the three provinces stands at 20-25 percent,” said Adhikari.
Provincial governments said lack of adequate human resource has affected development works, revenue collection and delivery of essential services.
Prakash Jwala, the minister for economic affairs and planning in Karnali Province, said there is a dearth of technical workers such as engineers and doctors. “Civil servants show little interest in coming here because it is an underdeveloped and remote region,” he said.
The staff crunch has reached the top of the chain, even affecting the chief minister’s office. For a total 378 positions created at the chief minister’s office and the six ministries in Province 3, there are only 161 officials. In Province 4, the chief minister’s office has only 22 staff even as the federal government has approved 52 posts. Officials in Kathmandu said provincial governments also lack experts. In Province 1, there are no revenue officials at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Provincial governments accuse the federal government of not caring what kind of officials they need. Another major problem is “abrupt” transfer of senior officials by the federal government without consulting with the provincial administration. “It was the federal government that withdrew all revenue staffers from the ministry,” said PMO Secretary Laxman Prasad Mainali, who visited provinces 1 and 2. These officials were recalled after the provincial governments presented their budget.
According to Indra Angbo, the minister for economic affairs, the federal government recently sent six revenue officials to Province 1. “Though we still lack staff at the ministry, these new officials have given us some respite,” he said.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration said they have already mobilised around 70-80 percent of the human resource required at the provincial headquarters. “Over the last one week, we have mobilised a large number of officials in provinces to address the staff crunch. We have also asked other ministries to do so,” said Rishi Raj Acharya, an under-secretary.
The federal government, which currently controls mobilisation of civil servants in the provinces, has approved around 20,900 staffers for offices under the state administrations. However, Kathmandu failed to depute the required number of workers to the provinces due to civil servants’ reluctance to join the provincial or local services.
Six months on