Government Changes Finance Secretary in the Midst of Budget Preparation

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Government Changes Finance Secretary in the Midst of Budget Preparation

April 23: The post of Finance Secretary, which is considered as the most important after the post of chief secretary, has always been destabilized by political leadership. The practice of changing the finance secretary after the change of government has prevailed since the past one decade.

The incumbent Finance Minister Barshman Pun has also given continuity to this tradition.

At a time when the Finance Ministry is in intense discussion to finalize the discussion of the budget is going on, Finance Minister Pun has appointed Madhu Kumar Marasini, who was recently acquitted by the Special Court in a corruption case, as the new finance secretary. The Special Court had recently acquitted Marasini in an alleged corruption case involving the procurement of the National Payment Gateway.

Pun removed Dr Krishna Hari Pushkar, who was preferred by the then Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat, and appointed Marasini in his place.

Pushkar was appointed as the finance secretary for the second time in last August. Before that, Arjun Prasad Pokharel was served as the finance secretary. Pokharel, who was appointed to the post on May last year, was able to work only for six months.

It clearly shows that the Ministry of Finance had three secretaries in a single year.

Marasini took charge of the finance secretary Monday on the same day that the Council of Ministers decided to appoint him to the post.

The cabinet meeting on Monday decided to transfer Marasini to Finance Ministry and Pushkar to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. Marasini has prior experience of serving as the finance secretary. Finance Minister Barshman Pun said that changes in responsibilities should be taken as normal.

Pushkar was not an expert hand in affairs related to the Ministry of Finance. Before being appointed as the finance secretary, he worked in agencies under other ministries and also worked with the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the Ministry of Home Affairs. He joined the Ministry of Finance only on September 4, 2021 as the revenue secretary. Former Chief Secretary Lokdarshan Regmi and Arjun Pokharel, who also served as the finance secretaries, were also not experts on matters related to the Finance Ministry.

Former Chief Secretary Bimal Koirala says that the political leadership have made civil servants including the finance secretary as their puppets in recent years.

"It is wrong for the political leadership to use and dump civil servants. It will not create a conducive environment for work under any circumstances," he said. Koirala said that if the civil servants are destabilized, they will not be able to work properly and it will have a big impact on the overall development of the country.

According to him, other countries give importance to the stability of employees. It is not customary to remove a person once appointed to the post of finance secretary unless he is accused of serious charges. But Koirala says that two to three finance secretaries are changed here in a year and this is not a good practice.

Koirala argues that if the post of finance secretary is made weak and unstable, it will affect the morale of the private sector as well as the relationship with development partners.

Former Finance Minister Dr Mahat had also removed almost all of the officials at the Finance Ministry.

Last month, Minister Pun made a comprehensive reshuffle of the heads of departments and divisions under the ministry. When he made Shivlal Tiwari the Director General of the Inland Revenue Department, he gave Dhundi Niraula the responsibility of the Department of Customs. Ritesh Kumar Shakya, who was the head of the revenue management division, has been transferred to the budget and program division.

Uttar Kumar Khatri of Budget Division was transferred to Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division and Dhani Ram Sharma was made the head of Revenue Management Division.

Minister Pun transferred Shobhakant Poudel, who was the Director General of the Department of Customs, to the Public Finance Management Training Center and the head of training there, Ram Prasad Acharya, was brought to the Ministry of Finance.

The Finance Secretary and Revenue Secretary play a major role in preparing budget. That is why Finance Minister Pun wanted to bring a person who is suitable to him as finance secretary. Upon his recommendation, the government has given Marasini the responsibility of finance secretary.

However, confusion has arisen due to the sudden change of the top officials of the finance ministry when the ministry and other developmental ministries were actively working to prepare the budget.

According to the constitutional provisions, the government should announce the budget on 15th of Jestha (May 28 this year). A lot of work needs to be done before that. After the principles and priorities of the budget presented in the parliament are passed, the government should bring policies and programs. After that the policies and programs are passed, the government will then announce the budget. However, when the secretary changes at the last minute, it will take time for the new secretary to understand everything, said a senior official.


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