Debate on Public Service Commission vacancies unfounded
As soon as the Public Service Commission published a notice on May 29 to recruit as many as 9,161 staffers for 515 local bodies, different sections of the society, including the political parties and social groups, started opposing the vacancy and demanding its removal. They are claiming that the vacancy by the Commission is against the provision of the Constitution as well as the spirit of federalism. The government side, however, argues that the federal Commission has not only authority but also obligation as per the Constitution as well as the existing laws and acts to open vacancy for the local governments until the formation of states’ public service commission. Administration expert Dr. Bhim Dev Bhatta, Secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration Yadav Prasad Koirala and secretary at the Commission Mahendra Prasad Guragain spoke on various aspects of the controversy in the weekly Gorkhapatra Sambad. Excerpts:
Announcement lawful : Bhatta
The controversy on the Public Service Commission (PSC) vacancy advertisement is baseless. The existing Law has allowed the PSC to recruit staffers in the local units until the Provincial level Public Service Commission is formed. But the Provincial Public Service Commission is yet to be formed. So, the PSC needs to give continuity to the employee recruitment process.
The problem has arisen due to lack of understanding on the reservation system. The PSC had prepared criteria for the reservation system and the vacancy was called on the same ground. After the Employees Adjustment Ordinance came into effect, the PSC initiated the recruitment process. The government has already adjusted almost 60,000/70,000 employees and still there is a requirement of approximately 136,000 employees in local levels and provincial levels.
After the adjustment, the government had asked the local level and provincial level to make demand for the required staff members. Total 515 local bodies requested for more than 9,000 employees and the PSC announced the vacancy. We need to understand that the vacancies were called by 515 individual bodies, not by a single entity. If the vacancies had been called by a single body, then the categorisation would have been different. Some entity had called for only two staff members whereas one seat is allocated for open competition and one for inclusion. In the same way, if only one staff is demanded, it will not be for the reserved quota. To accommodate reservations of all eight clusters, there should be at least 27-28 vacancies from the single entity. So the present debate is baseless.
The federal government has been preparing to change the reservation quotas of various reserved groups. Hence, the reservation quotas allocated today might be changed in the future. The system itself is criticised that some elite groups have been benefited by the reservation allocated for the backward communities. There are numbers of issues raised regarding the reservation system. So the federal civil service act must address these issues.
In addition, after the federal system comes into effect, the work pressure in the central government will decline and it will increase in the local government. The central government had only 90,000 staff members while there is requirement of almost 1, 35,000 staff members. To fulfill the gap, the vacancies were announced
There is rumour that a writ petition will be filed against the advertisement. As far as I know, even if the petition is filed, the court will not make illogical decision. The court will understand this is a lawful move. The government will lose public faith if this advertisement gets cancelled.
We haven’t done enough homework to improve our administration. None of the government was seem serious about this matter. Clustering should be done for bringing right man in the right place. Grooming civil servants will help get charismatic administrative in future. Politicisation is another factor that is weakening the system. Without political blessings, no one can get promotion in the higher position. Again our administration cannot perform competently if the trade union keeps on interfering in civil service. Furthermore, civil servants are more city-centric and this tendency has hampered its performance.
Vacancies are valid: Koirala
Let’s see the Constitution, existing law and the Civil Service Act first. We have three-tier governments. The Constitution stipulates that every local body is a separate government. Similarly, the state government is a different one and federal government is also different government. It means every local body is a different unit for administrative functioning. For instance, we have 25 ministries at the centre and all the ministries are separate. They are different in nature and they perform their works separately. In this fashion, we have 753 local bodies and 77 district coordination committees across the country. They all are distinct administrative units.
The Civil Servant Adjustment Act 2018 was introduced last year after deliberation in the Parliament. The act says that vacancies at the local bodies shall be fulfilled as per the demands of the particular local bodies. Every local unit can demand the recruitment of staffers independently. They must be fulfilled separately according to the laws.
Furthermore, we have announced vacancies as per the existing laws. The current government directs us to open vacancy as the concerned laws and we did the same. The Adjustment Act states that the local and state governments shall send the list of the required staffers to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and the federal Public Service Commission shall announce the vacancies as per the direction of the ministry until the state laws meant for the state’s Public Service Commission is formulated. Thus, the vacancy has been made as per the law. There is no question of interference from the federal government.
Even the State Assembly cannot devise a law redefining the entire state as a single unit. It will be against the spirit of the Constitution and the federal law because the Constitution and the concerned law have established every local body as a single and distinct administrative unit. Therefore, even the state’s public service commission will have to publish vacancies separately for each individual local body. On the other hand, every local body is a separate administrative unit but they do not have power to form a public service commission under it. As a result, they do not have rights to recruit, promote and transfer their employees. Therefore, they will have to ask the state’s Public Service Commission to fulfill their demand of staffers after the formation of such commission at state level.
The concerned mayors and deputy mayors are not opposing the vacancies but others. Stealing the opportunity at a time when the vacancy for the local bodies are being controversial, some people are advocating that the local governments should get authority to hire temporary staffers till the recruitment of permanent ones by the state’s commission. If it is made possible, disaster will occur at the local levels due to the possible nepotism in the process of recruiting the temporary employees.
The number of 9,161 posts announced for the local bodies is minimal because the total required number is many times higher. If the vacancy is scrapped on any pretext, it will hugely hamper the functioning of the local bodies and consequently the people can revolt against it.
Advertisement will not be cancelled : Guragain
We have to go through the constitutional provision to understand the present move of the PSC. The Constitution has envisioned a federal state comprised of three tiers of government, federal, provincial and local. It has broadly defined the exclusive and concurrent rights of the three tiers of the government. Nowhere the Constitution has been mentioned that the provincial government will recruit staff members in the local units.
The PSC announced the vacancy as per the Section 12 (5 and 6) of Employees Adjustment Act. Going through the provision, one could understand the move is lawful. It is mentioned in the act that individual entity will announce vacancy separately and for the promotion, one level junior staff will be the potential candidate. Both promotion and appointment will be done according to the laws of the local service.
But, until the local unit formulates law and provincial PSC is formed, the central PSC is responsible to recruit staff members in these units. The local unit or provincial government can demand staff through the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. There is no doubt that the local unit is an autonomous unit and has right to recruit staff. If the provincial level PSC has been formed, the local units will be announcing vacancies through the provincial PSC.
The Employees Adjustment Act has mentioned that recruitment of staff members shall be done according to the Civil Servant Act, while at the same time the Civil Service Act has also mentioned that the percentage of reservation cluster shall be done by the PSC itself. The local units have further demanded more than 100 staff members. Following the controversy on the previous advertisement, the PSC postponed the idea to announce other vacancies. Once the issue will be cleared, the commission will announce the vacancies in aggregate because the PSC has limited resources and has to follow its own calendar. Following the confusion in the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the parliament over the issue, the PSC recently hold discussion and made them clear about the legal constrains.
Regarding the charge that the move was against the principle of inclusiveness, I will like to make it clear that the PSC has not reduced the reservation seats even by one per cent. The reservation seats can be accommodated only in a single unit but the vacancies are announced for larger number or at several units. Again, the PSC has published the announcement without mentioning the individual units so that everyone can understand it. The details are published in the website of the commission.
Even if the provincial PSC had been formed, the same thing would have happened. The PSC will keep the record of the reservations seats allocated to the certain reserved group in every vacancy. The deficit in reservation in this vacancy will be compensated in future one.
The Civil Servant Adjustment Act and Civil Servant Adjustment Ordinance have created lot of confusions. The ordinance was enacted to enforce forceful adjustment of the civil servants. The law on province PSC cannot be formulated without endorsing Province Public Service Commission Act and without the law the Province PSC cannot be formed. Even after forming the PSC, the province PSC required infrastructure, curriculum and employee to operate it and this will take a long time. The ordinance has also mentioned that the federal PSC will recruit staff until the Province PSC is formed.
Coming to the consequences of the cancellation of the advertisement, we have not expected such thing.
We cannot guess what the sovereign parliament will decide. If this advertisement will be canceled then the shortage of staff in local units will hamper development works. If the parliament directs PSC on the basis of any constitutional provision, then the PSC will have to accept this. In my opinion this advertisement will not be cancelled.
For the good performance, the employees have to be appointed in the body based on their expertise. But the existing law has made it mandatory to transfer staff in each two years. This will decrease the efficiency of the staff. Legal constrains is another factor which is decreasing efficiency of our civil servants.