KATHMANDU, Aug 26: The government has strictly instructed Village Development Committee (VDC) secretaries to start working from their respective duty stations within a week.
Issuing a circular on Friday, the ministry of local development directed VDC secretaries to reach their duty stations within seven days. The government took the decision after the ministry´s study found that most of the VDC secretaries tended to live in the district headquarters and urban areas for weeks on end.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayankaji Shrestha, who also holds the local development portfolio, said the government would not only stop releasing salaries of the secretaries staying away from their offices but also take stringent action against them.
"We issued the directives after a national survey conducted by the ministry showed most of the VDC secretaries staying away from far-flung VDCs on the pretext of security threat," Shrestha told Republica. "Our study showed that there is no serious security threat to civil servants."
According to Shrestha, the ministry conducted the study in Siraha, Dhanusha and Mahottari, where VDC secretaries reportedly received more threats from various underground outfits. "But we found that the situation in the districts is not as serious as claimed by the VDC secretaries," he said. The ministry has already corresponded to all District Development Committees and other agencies overseeing government expenditures to stop releasing salaries of the VDC secretaries staying away from office.
According to him, the trend of staying away from remote VDC offices has seriously affected service delivery and that the situation is worse in some Tarai districts.
However, Damodar Rijal, chairman of the VDC Secretaries´ Interest Protection Center Nepal, said there is no point in issuing such instruction unless the government ensures security to the civil servants.
He asserted that VDC secretaries were doing their best. "The government, instead, should think about the security of the secretaries who are giving continuing their duties despite repeated threats from various underground outfits," Rijal told Republica.
He said the government should think about holding local elections instead of pressing the secretaries to stay in far-flung villages despite adverse situation.
For the last 10 years the VDCs have no political representatives as the government has failed to hold local elections since 1997 and VDC secretaries are entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing local governance in the villages.
In the absence of VDC secretaries, locals are compelled to visit the district headquarters to get their work done.