KATHMANDU: With the change of the government’s chief secretary, the opportunities and challenges in bringing about reform in the permanent government have amplified.
Since Chief Secret-ary Madhav Prasad Ghimire is taking compulsory retirement this week, serious talks have ensued within and outside the bureaucratic circle about immediate initiative in this regard. As the top bureaucratic post has been politicised since many years, discussions are being held to make the post impartial, no matter which party holds the government.
Basically, the bureaucracy is known as the permanent government and the chief secretary as the immediate advisor of the prime minister. There is a need to make this role a dynamic one so that it can address people’s grievances, and it must play active role
in combating corruption and irregularities. In the absence of functioning parliament and stable government, bureaucracy is expected to play a leading role.
If the chief secretary has the courage to bring about changes, he or she can certainly do something to meet the public demand. He or she can also prevent the government from taking unpopular decisions because he or she can bring changes in the working style in
the bureaucracy. As the bureaucracy has been operating under Civil Service Act, 1992 and Rules 1993, the laws guarantee that not a single member of the bureaucrat will be dismissed from his or her post, except for the offence of grave crimes. These ethics must be reflected in order to prevent bureaucracy from being influenced by politics or corruption. Most bureaucrats have the tendency to blindly follow even wrong
orders from authorities above — senior officer, secretary or minister — which makes them corrupt and lethargic and also delays justice. So the chief secretary needs to take initiative to bring about reforms.
Another significant issue is that our bureaucracy is not assertive and is neglected by creative and talented personal-ities. Hence, the government and chief secretary need to inspire dynamic individuals by reforming the existing laws.
Bureaucracy is a huge institution with the capacity of hundred thousand members and it needs to handle day-to-day issues while fully respecting human rights, rule of law, democratic principles and expectations of the public for good governance.
“Several matters depend on the government’s chief secretary, as he is the top bureaucrat of the country. Therefore, he must be aware of the role he needs to play to lead the country towards good governance, fight against corruption and avert the government from taking wrong decisions,” Damodar Prasad Gautam, former chief secretary, told THT Perspectives. “After assuming office, a new chief secretary needs to play impart-ial and facilitating role among state organs and even political forces,” Gautam added.