Civil servants in Nepal learn about federal systems of government

The Forum of Federations, in collaboration with Nepal’s Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, recently organized a workshop on federalism and the civil service in Nepal.

The three-day event explored federal systems of government and how they may affect the public service. The workshop, held at the outset of Nepal’s constitution-drafting process, gave participants an understanding of different models of a federal government.

Throughout the workshop, national and international experts on federalism and civil service presented on topics such as fiscal federalism, the relationship between central and sub-national civil services, and case studies from Switzerland, South Africa and India.

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, elected in April 2008, will be developing a federal structure for Nepal as part of a new constitution to be completed by late 2010. The country’s transformation, from a unitary to a federal system, is a crucial and complex task, requiring public and private consultations and negotiations. Nepal’s policy makers, within and without government and the political parties as well as journalists and the public, need to understand the definition of federalism-related terms, and the challenges, benefits and drawbacks of federal systems.

To address this challenge, the Forum joined with Nepal’s Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction to introduce senior civil servants to concepts of federalism they will have to negotiate regardless of what kind of federal system is adopted by the Constituent Assembly. In addition, civil servants are often transferred from portfolio to portfolio, necessitating a broad syllabus on federalism that will be applicable across ministerial lines.

The event equipped participants with the knowledge to discuss possible federal models with their ministers, and thereby exerting a positive influence on the constitution-drafting process.

Thirty eight senior civil servants from different ministries and government agencies participated in the workshop which took place from Dec. 5-7, 2008, in Kathmandu, Nepal. The workshop was supported by the German Federal Foreign Office through the GTZ Federalism Support Programme.

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