“We Can Make Civil Service Effective”

As Nepal is celebrating Civil Service Day, TANKA MANI SHARMA, secretary at the Ministry of General Administration, spoke to NEW SPOTILIGHT on the importance of the day. Excerpts:

Sept. 11, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 09, No. -6, September 11 2015 (Bhadra 25, 2072)

You are celebrating the Civil Service Day. What is its importance in the present context?

This is the twelfth year in a row we are celebrating the Civil Service Day. We delivered different kinds of slogans in celebrating the day. This years’ slogan is Dream of Civil Service to Make Prosperous Nepal. The civil service day is to improve services and nation building and development activities. The civil service day is also for the prosperity and goodwill of people. We have to understand what civil service is on this day.

What is the role of civil service?

The understanding here is different as people understand the civil service is for the sake of job and employment.  We must also know that the civil service is for service delivery, serving people for their betterment and quality of life. If it is not, we have to transform it this way.

How are you celebrating the day this year?

This year’s slogan calls for the betterment of people and effective service delivery throughout the country.

People often complain that the service delivery of civil service is deteriorating given the present political context, as a secretary of Ministry of General Administration, what role can you play to make the service delivery effective?

I took the charge of secretary recently. After discussing with my colleagues, I will definitely take measures to make the service delivery effective. As I have mentioned to you one of the major roles of civil servants is to serve the people. Our role is service oriented.

Since you also served as the director general of Department of Revenues, making it more effective in terms of service delivery, what do you suggest now to make the whole service delivery system effective given the present context?

Wherever the civil servants work, they must work under the civil service act and civil service regulations. After an extensive study, I have found that our act, regulations and policies have everything to make the civil service effective. So far as the implementation part is concerned, we are yet to implement the provisions completely. If we are able to implement all the rules and regulations as written in the act, there can be a lot of difference in our service delivery. It will also enhance the quality of service.

It is also said that there is political intervention in all the levels of civil service with so many trade unions. How do you look at this?

I also get to see this kind of thinking. There is a growing public concern about politicization of civil service. We can minimize this.

What steps are you taking?

As an immediate measure, we are implementing a performance contract while making appointments of head of departments and projects. We will closely monitor their performance on a monthly basis. Despite the provisions in laws and regulations, we were unable to implement this for quite a long time. Recently, a meeting of the secretaries decided to follow the performance contract agreement in transferring and appointment of head of department and projects. I think this will bring about major changes in civil service, enhancing the performance of civil servants.

What reform measures are you taking?

We appoint heads of the departments and projects, giving them assignments to be completed in their tenure. The transfers and appointments will be strictly based on performance of the particular individual. The meeting has also asked the concerned secretaries to evaluate the performance on the basis of contract.

How do you look at the lapses and weaknesses?

One of the weaknesses of the ministry is that we are unable to have any documentation on the performance of the civil servants. Civil Service Act has clear provisions for evaluation of the performance of civil servants and the performance contract before appointment of civil servant. However, we did not follow them. The recent secretary meeting has agreed to follow the this legal provisions in appointment. One has to sign agreement to perform his or her job as in the contract. If one fails to do it, he/she is also punished. The basis of such appointment will be based on his capability, experience and seniority as well as previous performance. The meeting also agreed to strictly implement the monthly evaluation of all the gazette level civil servants by his/her superior. This will help to control the system.

What do you need to make civil service more effective?

We have realized the need to go for decentralization on transfers. As the center cannot see everything on the transfer of civil servants at the district level, we want to decentralize certain powers.

As we are heading for federalism with the promulgation of the new constitution, there will still be a period of transition.  It is going to be a major challenge for all of us.  How to make the transition effective and rehabilitate the employees. We will need to work on this.

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