Merger of ministries may layoff 115 bureaucrats

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 1, 2018-More than 15 secretaries and 100 joint secretaries face layoffs if the KP Oli government goes ahead with its plan to merge ministries.

The Post bases this estimate according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) calculations that hinge on two models--temporary and permanent settlement of civil staff.

Indeed, the government faces a daunting task in managing a large number of civil staff despite downsizing ministries from 30 to 17.

Seventy-three secretaries will continue their service in various ministries, constitutional bodies, commissions and seven provinces despite the drastic reduction in the number of ministries.

Over 200 joint secretaries currently serving in various ministries would have to manage after the new merger bid. 

According to the Cabinet decision, three ministries--Industry, Commerce and Supplies--merge into one. So there should be one secretary. Nonetheless, as a temporary solution, the three designated secretaries will handle the three portfolios. Ditto is the case of Ministries of Federal Affairs and General Administration that are to be merged as per the decision. However, as temporary solution two dedicated secretaries will carry out the duties. After one of the secretaries retires, the posts will be removed, according to the proposal.

To adjust these secretaries and joint secretaries after merging various ministries, the government plans to set up 11 new commissions at the centre, tasked to work in various fields as mentioned in the constitution.

Some civil staff would retire and for awhile, there would be two secretaries in some ministries, while some others would be transferred to various commissions, said one secretary at PMO.

Senior officials fear the spectre of political nepotism and favouritism. Top bureaucrats may have reason to feel alienated. Those close to ruling party leaders may get lucrative positions, while those who are not could be deputed to outposts, say observers.

One secretary, however, sounded optimistic. “This time around we find Prime Minister KP Oli determined to provide excellent service and delivery. He is not going to compromise with top level reshuffling,” the secretary said.

The plan is to reward meritorious civil staff. Officers with excellent performance records will receive important posting and those with poor records will be sent on deputation, according to observers.

Minister for Population and Environment Lal Babu Pandit says, “There are some black listed senior civil servants and they will be given responsibility as per their background.” 

Pandit has previously served as Minister for General Administration.

The minister claims managing top bureaucrats is not complicated. “We will settle it within an hour,” he says. 

“We will send them in various commissions and government entities after evaluating the work efficiency of secretaries and joint secretaries. Some ministries will have two secretaries, some will be retired, and post of special secretary can be created to adjust them.”

Published: 01-03-2018 07:20

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