BUREAUCRACY: Promotion Politics

After almost a week of discussions, the government finally promoted sixteen joint secretaries to the level of secretary, but it afforded to leave the post in foreign ministry vacant

Feb. 14, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -16 February. 13- 2015 (Falgun 1, 2071)

Although the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML jointly opposed the UCPN-Maoist led alliance in the Constituent Assembly, they were in a loggerhead on the promotion of secretaries. After a week of wrangling, they finally promoted 13 joint secretaries on the basis of their partisan closeness, leaving the much-needed promotion at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in limbo.

As Nepalese society is vertically divided on political grounds, it is nothing surprising to see political polarization in civil service. Foreign secretary is normally promoted from the Ministry’s cadres, and hence, no one showed much interest in this matter.

Under the provisions of Nepal Civil Service Act, Suresh Prakash Acharya, Sarad Raj Bista and Surendra Kumar Thakur were promoted under the 'senior most' category. Other thirteen were promoted on the basis of choices by the ruling parties. Out of the 42joint secretaries selected for promotion, other secretaries included Sunil Bahadur Malla, Laxman Prasad Mainali, Ram Kumar Acharya, Rajan Khanal, Bijaya Kumar Mallik, Nawaraj Bhandari, Ram Kumar Sharma, Khum Raj Punjali, Ishwori Prasad Paudel, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Prem Kumar Rai, Tanka Mani Sharma and Shreedhar Sapkota. All of them were joint secretaries of the batch of 2006/07

Among the acting secretaries who are in the list of 42, Shanker Prasad Koirala was dropped. Earlier, acting foreign secretary Shankar Bairagi and acting defense secretary Sitaula were even not listed in 42 joint secretaries to be recommended for secretary.

Acting foreign secretary Shanker Bairagi could have been picked up through the marking system. However, the government did not intervene in the process leaving foreign ministry without a full secretary.

At a time when Nepal is facing a very complex foreign relations dynamics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs a professional and career-based foreign secretary. Having long experiences in dealing with the foreign affairs and being the senior most joint secretary at the Foreign Ministry, Shankar Bairagi is a deserving candidate. With certain provisions in the current Civil Service Act and Regulations, there are ways to promote Bairagi as secretary.

However, nobody has shown the need to exercise the executive privilege to promote Bairagi as foreign secretary. However, the government is waiting to pass the Civil Service Amendment Bill, which is at the Legislature Parliament with strong reservation of Joint secretary at technical service and Judicial and Legal service.

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