Power tussle holds back health secy appointment

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The post of health secretary is vacant since Dr Kiran Regmi retired on December 4

Dec 19, 2017-The government has failed to appoint a new secretary at the Ministry of Health even two weeks after the position became vacant due to power tussle among aspirant officials. 

The post has been vacant since Dr Kiran Regmi, former health secretary, retired on December 4.

There are currently a few officials, including Dr Pushpa Chaudhary and Dr Sushil Pyakurel, in the race for the post. While both the doctors have been working as 12th level official, Dr Chaudhary is senior in terms of the date of their promotion from the 11th level. Under the Health Services Act-2014, officials working at the 12th and 11th levels with at least five years of experience are eligible to be appointed as secretary. 

It is unclear though if the government would appoint an official at the 12th level or look for alternatives from the pool at the 11th level. Health Minister Deepak Bohora on Sunday said they were reviewing eligibility of the prospective candidates. “We will appoint health secretary soon,” said Bohora. 

Dr Chaudhary, who is thought be a strong contender for the post, was recently dragged into controversy after the anti-graft body, CIAA, dispatched a letter in June asking the Health Ministry to take action against her over her alleged involvement in financial embezzlement while procuring goods at the Paropakar Maternity Hospital, Thapathali. Dr Chaudhary was director of the hospital at the time. 

She denies the allegations, though. 

“I am not aware of any such letter or any actions. The issue has surfaced now as part of a plot to block my appointment to the post of health secretary,” said Dr Chaudhary. “I will talk about the issue in detail through a press conference soon.” In an interesting turn of event, Health Minister on Sunday said that the CIAA letter has ‘vanished’ from the ministry and instructed the officials to immediately look into it and follow the CIAA instructions. Former Health Secretary Dr Regmi said she is not aware of the letter. “I had asked a few officials to look into it but did not find the letter. It must have been misplaced somewhere before reaching my table,” claimed Dr Regmi. Dr Pyakurel, another frontrunner for the post, has served in the far-western region for over a decade. But Dr Pyakurel, who is close to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, is said to be using his influence to land the post. 

However, many other officials close to the CPN-UML have been claiming that the appointment should be done by the new government.

Published: 19-12-2017 07:52

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