CIVIL SERVICE Transfer Row

In power short of four months, the present UCPN-Maoist coalition government transferred more than 800 civil servants shaking the civil service badly<br>A CORRESSPONDENT

Dec. 28, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No. -12 Dec. 23-2011 (Poush 08,2068)<BR>

A District Forest Officer was suddenly transferred from Siraha to Dolakha. His mistake was that he rejected the payment of extra money spent by the minister of state for Forest and Soil Conservation. The Forest and Soil Conservation minister has also transferred a dozen other District Forest Officers for as flimsy reasons.


The Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning has set another record. Its minister reportedly threatened to assault secretary at the Ministry of General Administration for declining to accept his proposal to transfer divisional engineers.


The situation is similar in the Ministry of Local Development and Ministry of Education where education minister and spokesperson of UCPN-Maoist transferred secretary Shanker Pandey just a month before his retirement by violating the Civil Service Act. According to the act, a secretary will not be transferred if his tenure ends within three months.


“It is unfortunate that I was transferred less than one and a half month before my retirement,” said former secretary Pandey, who submitted his resignation expressing dissension over the decision.


Despite public statement by prime minister Baburam Bhattarai opposing the frequent transfers of the bureaucrats, chief secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire revealed to parliamentary State Affairs Committee (SAC) that transfers of over 800 senior civil servants happened in just 3 past months.


“I have to admit the fact that unlawful transfers are rampant in various ministries,” said Ghimire, expressing his helplessness against the menace. “I am unable to stop the transfers made in violation of the Civil Service Act.”


According to officials at the Ministry of General Administration, around 200 officials have already been transferred after the formation of the present government three months ago. Officials said the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works has sought transfer of 50 officials and the education ministry for 41.


Although the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of parliament has directed the Ministry of General Administration (MoGA) to furnish details of the transfers -- that was made violating the existing legal provisions -- and cancel them within 15 days, nobody is listening to it.


“The meeting directed the ministry to submit within a month to this committee a report on the implementation of the committee´s decisions,” said Ramnath Dhakal, chairman of the SAC, after the meeting.


According to Civil Service Act, civil servants are supposed to be transferred once a year, and the MoGA has to give a prior approval to a ministry for transfers and deputations.


The parliamentary committee had invited the government secretaries upon receiving complaints about massive bribery for transferring civil servants to lucrative positions. The committee had questioned why the secretaries yielded to pressure from ministers in violating the legal provisions.


There have been altogether 894 transfers in the last four months alone. According to SAC, most of the transfers violated the existing legal provisions. The Ministry of Local Development has topped the list of ministries to transfer civil servants. The ministry transferred 128 civil servants in the last four months alone.


Similarly, the Ministry of Information and Communications transferred 122, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives 81, Ministry of Home Affairs 74, Physical Planning and Works 55, and Forest and Soil Conservation 44 civil servants.


“We have created ministries unnecessarily. I have been transferred to so many places,” said Brinda Hada Bhattarai at the Ministry of Irrigation. A secretary gets transferred to less lucrative ministries if he or she doesn´t obey the order of the minister to transfer civil servants,” she said. Hada Bhattarai was transferred to at least five ministries in her four years tenure. She has already served PMO, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, National Planning Commission, National Trust, Information Commission and now she is a secretary at Ministry of Irrigation.


“We are always under pressure every time when there is a change in government. We have to face trade unions also,” said Keshav Bhattarai at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.


Defending themselves against the accusation of negligence, secretaries blamed politicians for exerting enormous pressure for transfers. Pratap Pathak at MOGA argued that politicians exert enormous pressure for transfers.


Similarly, Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire pointed out the need for amending the existing laws to regulate the transfers of civil servants. Lilamani Poudel at the Prime Minister´s Office attributed the rampant transfers to impunity. “It takes more than six months even to transfer a peon for dereliction of duty,” Poudel said.  “We are always under pressure every time when there is a change in government. We have to face trade unions also,” said Keshav Bhattarai at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.


Defending themselves against the accusation of negligence, secretaries blamed politicians for exerting enormous pressure for transfers. Pratap Pathak at MOGA argued that politicians exert enormous pressure for transfers.


Similarly, Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire pointed out the need for amending the existing laws to regulate the transfers of civil servants. Lilamani Poudel at the Prime Minister´s Office attributed the rampant transfers to impunity. “It takes more than six months even to transfer a peon for dereliction of duty,” Poudel said. 

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