DR. SOM LAL SUBEDI: Hectic Task

Secretary at the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs Dr. SomLal Subedi starts office early in the morning

May 1, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -20 April 24- 2015 (Baishakh 11, 2072)

After a dispute with the local people at Sisadole landfill site, Kathmandu valley turned into a garbage dump. Even after several days of talks, Kathmandu Metropolitan City failed to reach an agreementwith the locals and open the landfill for use.

When secretary at the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs Dr. SomLal Subedi saw agreement was going to be nowhere near, he intervened in the process. A6-hour long marathon negotiation obliged the locals to withhold the agitation. Similarly, clearing of the pile of garbage, lying in heaps dotting thevalley streets, was another daunting task before him. 

With related institutions mobilized under the coordination of Dr. Subedi, tonnes of garbage cleared within two days.The municipal machinery can clear almost 500 tons of garbage in two days.

Althoughthe Ministry’s office hoursstart at 10 AM and close at 5 PM, Dr. Subedi comes to office at 8.30 in the morning and leavesit after 6 PM. It is usual to see him working almost 10-12 hours a day.

From transfers of officials at the DDC, settling disputes, and listening to the demands of members of Legislature Parliament, to suggesting solutions to the problems at the ward level development as well as certification, registration and social welfare, secretary Dr.Subedi has to look at everything under the moon.

With a nationwide network from wards to districts, responsible to carry out development work and tasks to ensure social security, Dr. Subedi is ready to look at all kinds of problems.

According to the official secretary of Dr. Subedi, a secretary has to interact with between 200 and 300 people every day. According to Krishna Gyawali, who worked with seven secretaries in the last ten years, secretary Dr. Subedi’s visitors range from persons with disability, members of Legislature Parliament, employees, politicians and social workers, who come with certain demands related to financial assistance, or development agenda and project proposals.

Having spent his long career working under the Ministry in various positions, secretary Dr. Subedi knows its ins and outs. Knowing problemshasboth advantages and disadvantages.

His days begin in the Ministry with a high level official meeting from the first hour. Then he briefs his minister about the state of affairs. He attends the meeting with development partners and meetings under various programs. Then he also attends the general council meetings of various District Development Committees, and municipal councils.

“I don’t feel any pressure. As I have already decentralized my authority to the concerned joint secretaries at divisions, I rarely see the issue of implementation. What I do is coordination and supervision. This helps me a lot to save my time,” said Dr.Subedi.

As there is no elected representativeat this moment, the ministry has to face all kinds of pressure and burden. “Had I not been involved in the nitty-grittyissues like transfers and recommendation for budget allocation, I would have put all my efforts to improve the deliverysystem,” said Dr. Subedi, who has completed his PhD in fiscal decentralization.

Transferred in over a dozen ministries in the last three and half years of his tenure, secretary Dr. Subedi, who is the senior-most secretary at present after chief secretary Leelamani Paudyal, believes in working in the team and decentralization of authority and delegating power to his associates.

When he was at the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management, he took a decision of handing over the authority of transport management to fine up to Rs.1500.00 to traffic violators. Thanks to this decision, the Traffic Police launched a nationwide campaign against alcohol.  Wherever he goes, Dr. Subedi setsup some new precedents.

Had his proposal to constitute a strong regulatory mechanism to ensure quality of medical education been accepted, the present controversy on medical colleges would not have come. During his tenure as education secretary, Dr. Subedi took a number of measures to reform the education system.

Even in Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and National Planning Commission, Dr. Subedi took up major reforms. Thanks to his initiation, the government decided to scrap the publishing of Red Book by National Planning Commission and scattering the development projects.

Whether in the cabinet secretariat or Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs, Secretary Dr. Subedi is always concerned about how to improve the service delivery and produce the best results from bureaucracy. 

Although many his contemporary secretaries are hesitant to speak, Dr. Subedi, a development oriented bureaucrat, firmly holds his belief in transparency and accountability in his work and performance.

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