Saturday, August 04, 2007

Parliament passes civil service bill
The parliament Friday passed a bill amending Civil Service Act 1993, thus ending the one-year long legal vacuum in the bureaucracy.
The amended Act has guaranteed time-bound promotion, reservation, and trade union rights, besides making the secretarial appointment process relatively more transparent.
Time-bound promotion, trade union rights and 45 percent reservation for women, Janajatis, Madhesis, Dalits, physically challenged and backward region have been guaranteed in the bureaucracy for the first time.
As per time-bound promotion, non-gazetted government employees in the post of clerk will be promoted to higher level provided they have the required qualification in 10 years. Similarly, non-gazetted first class officials will be upgraded every 12 years, section officers every 15 years, while under-secretaries and joint secretaries will get promoted every 18 years.
Similarly, the provision for reservation says that 45 percent of the total posts in the bureaucracy will be distributed to women (33 percent), Janajati (27 percent), Madhesi (22 percent), Dalit (9 percent), physically challenged (5 percent) and backward region (4 percent).
However, the Act has adopted the principle of positive reservation.
The provision on trade union rights allows government employees up to the post of section officer to join trade unions. Previously, only non-gazetted officers, below the post of section officer were allowed to join unions or organizations. Trade union rights also means the trade union of the government should be registered at the Department of Labor.
The provision of time-bound promotion and trade union rights are still the most controversial provisions. Critics fear that the provision for automatic promotion, one of the major demands of agitating government employees' organizations and unions, will affect meritocracy in the civil service.
Likewise, those who oppose trade union rights say that the provision will lead to politicization of the "permanent government".
Yuv Raj Panday, general administration secretary, said the parliament-endorsed bill has ensured transparency and provided no room for manipulation in the appointment of secretaries. According to him, secretaries will be appointed only in Poush (mid-December to mid-January) and Ashad (mid-June-mid July) every year.
Agitating government employees' organizations said that the Act has not addressed their demands fully. "We had demanded time-bound promotion every ten years for all government employees. Still, whatever we have achieved is satisfactory. It has opened doors to address our demands in future," said Bhawani Thani, President of Nepal Civil Service Employees' Union.
Likewise, Ganesh Basyal, President of Nepal Government Employees Organization said, "Our demands for trade union rights up to the post of undersecretary, equal period for promotion for all government employees and reform in work performance evaluation have not been addressed. We will continue our movement to get the demands addressed."
In the meantime, employees of the parliament have prepared a draft Bill that allows them to switch service and join the same post in the civil service.
Besides, the Bill proposes the retirement age of parliament employees as 60. At present, the retirement age is 58. The parliament decided to send the Bill to the concerned committee for discussion.

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