The president will be able to make 10 percent of the appointments to four superior posts of public administration from outside the civil service considering their “special merit, skill, eligibility and essentiality” if a proposed law is approved.
The public administration ministry has prepared a draft of "Public Service Act, 2017" keeping a provision of allotting 10 percent of the posts of secretary, additional secretary, joint secretary and deputy secretary for such appointments on contractual basis or deputation in the public interest.
The provision has been incorporated in the draft as a “special jurisdiction of the president” under which people can be appointed to the four posts from outside “public servants eligible for regular appointments”.
The draft law, which will be placed today before the secretary-level committee on administrative reforms for discussion, says the president can appoint any retired staff on contractual basis in the public interest.
Ali Imam Majumder, a former cabinet secretary, apprehends that there might be political appointments because of the proposed provision of 10 percent quota. "It may pave the way for invigorated politicisation of the administration," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
He also said such appointments are already being made though their percentage might be very low. "But creating such a scope through a legal framework might weaken the public administration in future," he added.
Contacted, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said the draft was yet to be finalised and there would be some discussions on it.
He mentioned that there is already a provision of 10 percent quota but the number of people appointed through it is very few. "But you will not be able to show that anyone was appointed on political consideration," he said.
A Cabinet Division official, wishing not to be named, said the provision exists under an administrative order and now the government is giving it a legal coverage by incorporating it in the draft law.
There is no specific act for the public servants at present and that the appointments and services of civil servants have been regulated by the rules promulgated by the country's presidents at different times, he noted.
The official also said the Awami League government soon after assuming office in 2009 took an initiative to frame a comprehensive law for the government officials aiming at making a merit-based administration which will have performance evaluation system and legal protection.
"The new draft law brought the existing rules under a legal framework. There is nothing good or bad in the proposed law," he added.
An official of the finance ministry said the World Bank gave various proposals to the government on reforms of the civil administration quite long ago. There were some discussions at the government level, but that did not move further, he said.
The draft law made it mandatory for the law enforcers to seek government permission for arresting a public servant before the charge sheet is accepted.
Currently, law enforcers can pick up any government staff before the charge sheet is filed.
However, such permission will not be required for arresting any public servant under the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2004.
If a public servant is sentenced to death, life term or more than one year in jail in any criminal case, he/she will be dismissed the day of conviction, the draft said.
It said if any official is handed down one year in jail or pays fines in any criminal case, he/she will get minor punishments, including suspension of promotion and salary hike and relegation of salary to lower scale.
The major punishments the official will get include forced retirement and removal or suspension from the job.
The proposed law said the government can send any official into forced retirement without serving any show-cause notice if he completes 25 years in his/her job.
No public servants will become citizens of any other country. If anyone gets citizenship of another country, the government can send the official on forced retirement after giving him a chance to come up with explanation in his favour.
The civil servants can take foreign or private jobs following the conditions set by the government. But the official cannot work there for more than five years during the entire service period, said the proposed law.
Officials in the public administration said the draft law was first placed in the cabinet in 2015. The cabinet approved it in principle but sent it back to the ministry with some observations.
In November last year, the draft was again placed in the cabinet which sent it to the secretary-level committee on administrative reforms with some directives for holding discussion on the draft law.
An inter-ministerial meeting was held in December last year on the proposed law. The stakeholders there discussed different provisions of the draft and gave their opinions.
The public administration ministry incorporated the opinions and sent it to the secretary-level committee on administrative reforms for approval.