Draft public servants law ready

Mandatory exam for promotion dropped

Mustafizur Rahman

The government has prepared a new draft of the public servants law excluding an important provision that stipulates mandatory examinations for officials to get promoted at any level.
The previous draft had proposed holding of examinations for promotion to all levels that include deputy secretary, joint secretary, additional secretary and secretary to bring an end to political favouritism and make the bureaucracy system-centric, said officials concerned.
The latest draft finalised by the public administration ministry has also dropped the idea of outsourcing employees in the government service to the private sector.
‘The public administration ministry has finalised the draft Public Servants Bill, 2014. The proposed law has been sent to the secretary-level committee on the administrative development for its endorsement,’ state minister for public administration ministry Ismat Ara Sadique said.
Asked whether the provision for examination system for promotions was dropped from the latest draft, she told New Age that a set of rules would be framed in keeping with the law and such provision would be incorporated there.
Both the draft Civil Service Bill, 2011 and later the draft Public Servants Bill, 2012 contained a provision for mandatory examinations for promotions of officials to all levels in civil service, according to the documents.
Quoting the new draft, the junior minister said, ‘Merit, seniority, training and professional efficiency and evaluation would be the basis of promotion.’
She hoped that the draft law would be soon placed in the cabinet for approval.
‘The draft includes a provision requiring the agencies concerned to take prior approval of the government to arrest a public servant on allegations of criminal offences relating to official functions,’ public administration ministry’s senior secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury said on Sunday after a meeting of the secretary-level committee chaired by cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan at the secretariat.
But the law would not apply in case of one’s personal offence, he added.
The secretary said the committee was expected to approve the draft in its next meeting as it was reviewing the proposed law keeping in view similar laws in some other countries.
Asked for his comment about exclusion of provisions for examination system and outsourcing of officials, the secretary said everything was not incorporated in the law.
Despite efforts in last six years, the Awami League-led government that took over for the second consecutive term in January 2014 could not enact the civil service law aimed at making the administration more accountable and transparent with a section of officials opposing the ideas of outsourcing
and also the examination system as proposed in the previous drafts.
The AL government had not even framed the promotion rules in ‘a clear shift from its election pledge to develop a merit-based civil service’, a senior official observed.
The draft Civil Service Bill, 2011 prepared through long consultations with stakeholders was abandoned and almost a similar draft titled Public Servants Bill, 2012 was framed to widen the jurisdiction of the law, according to officials at the public administration ministry.
There is now no law to regulate the civil service at present although Clause 133 of the Constitution says that the Parliament may by law regulate the appointment and service conditions of persons in the service of the republic.
Taking the advantage, many officers are as usual busy pursuing their own benefits including promotions and better postings without showing any interest to  the administrative reforms, which were planned initially to ‘make the officials and employees legally bound and accountable for better service delivery and the promotion system more transparent’.
The new law would cover all officials and employees in the public service. The scope of the law had been widened in the latest draft too, the officials said adding that the law would not allow anyone in the public service to have links with any party politics.
The draft law was also aimed at regulating appointment, promotion, transfer and other terms of public service. It suggested that promotion and posting should be based on merit and performance.
Presently, the Superior Selection Board led by the cabinet secretary evaluates the officials’ performance, based on the annual confidential reports, and their educational qualifications to recommend them for promotion.
But those who do not get promoted still remain in the dark about the reasons for their failure to climb up the ladder.
During its past tenure, the government was thinking of outsourcing services also at the lower end as it wanted to come out of the allegations of irregularities in the low-level recruitments.
The government, if feels it necessary, could outsource services in specific class or nature ‘fully or partially’ to the private sector and may dissolve any specific class in phases, the previous draft had said.

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