General

Local govts can now contract technical staff

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 21, 2018-After failing to deploy necessary staff for months, which has hampered development works at the local level, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has recommended that the local federal units hire technical staff on contract basis until permanent officials are deputed.

The Constitution of Nepal has delegated huge responsibilities to the local governments but most of them have yet to start planning for development in the absence of technical officials.

Engineers or overseers approve projects for implementation after technical assessment. Understaffed, a majority of local governments have only been issuing recommendations for citizenship certificates or passports while registering incidents of birth, death and marriage and collecting land revenue. These were the responsibilities of the local bodies that existed before 753 local units were carved out in line with the new constitution last year. The local governments have failed to spend even half of the development budget transferred to them.

“We have recommended that local governments contract technical staff so that development works can begin,” said Prahlad Karki, chief of the decentralisation department at the ministry. “They, however, cannot hire administrative staff.”

A study conducted by the ministry shows that 59 staffers are required in each rural municipality and a minimum 200 in a metropolitan city. This means at least 16,100 officials are required immediately to make the local governments functional. However, not even one third of the required workforce has taken up new assignment.

The Civil Servants Adjustment Act endorsed in October last year envisages completing staff management within six months. However, the government is yet to issue regulations necessary for starting the deployment process.

“The regulation has been drafted. Hopefully, it will be endorsed soon,” said Karki. The Act sets seniority, permanent address and preference of the official concerned as the bases for deployment to one of the three tiers of government--local, provincial and federal. Senior officials will have the first choice of duty station in transfer to vacant posts in the respective governments.

Ten months since the local people’s representatives were elected in the first phase and five months since the last, a majority of local governments have failed to fully assume their constitutional roles. The charter delegates 22 explicit and 15 concurrent authorities to the local governments.

“We’ve not been able to take any remarkable steps in the lack of staff,” Karna Singh Saud, chairperson of a rural municipality in Baitadi,  said recently. “Development works need technical staff but we don’t have any.”

Published: 21-02-2018 08:25

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