All appointments to subordinate govt posts must be made by competition
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s decision to put on hold recruitments in government departments and undertakings appears to have ruffled the feathers of his cabinet colleagues and other MLAs of the ruling camp. Sawant sent a note to Chief Secretary Parimal Rai and other secretaries asking them to immediately withdraw all the advertisements for recruitment to group ‘C’ posts in the state administration released after the date when the Goa Staff Selection Commission bill was passed by the Assembly. Sawant’s order has put on hold the recruitment process which was going on in a few departments. It is believed that one of the reasons behind the withdrawal of advertisements for recruitments was the fear of a burden of over Rs 150 crore on the state exchequer. The state is facing a tight financial situation and Sawant obviously did not want to add to his burden. The other reason of course was that when the Goa Staff Selection Commission is awaiting the assent of the Governor, the government must wait for that to happen and the rules to be framed before making any recruitment to subordinate posts in its departments.
The idea of making recruitments only through the Goa Staff Selection Commission would obviously go against the long-standing practice of ministers appointing men and women from their constituencies for consolidating their political position at the cost of public money. If inquiries are held about the past recruitments this fact can be easily brought out. The favour and bias that ministers showed toward men and women of their constituencies went against the criteria of merit that should have prevailed in recruitments. For every person helped by a minister into a government job there were thousands of Goan youth who were deprived despite having more merit than the one favoured. Though there were moves in the past for setting up a commission for selection of subordinate staff they were abandoned for one reason or the other. Credit should go to Sawant for getting the long-awaited Goa Staff Selection Commission bill passed in the monsoon session of the state Assembly. With the Goa Staff Selection Commission making appointments through open competition, the respect for merit would at least be restored. A competitive recruitment process will help Goans to prepare themselves not only for recruitments in the state but also at the all-India level.
Recruitments through the Goa Staff Selection Commission would offer a ray of hope to Goan youth who had merit but no political influence to get jobs in government departments. However, we would have to watch how the cabinet colleagues of Sawant deal with the situation. They must be seeing it as an obstacle to their way of managing appointments for men and women in their constituencies. They would surely try to find ways to influence appointments. They might build pressures on designing a system which allows them scope for manipulation. It is up to the Chief Minister to prevent any subversion of the merit-based appointment system.
It is going to take some months before the Goa Staff Selection Commission starts working. After the assent of the Governor the rules have to be framed. That is the time when the Chief Minister has to exercise total control so that the rules do not end up undermining the very purpose for which the commission was formed. As the government has put off the recruitments, several thousand of Goan youth would be waiting eagerly for the few thousand subordinate posts in the government. The commission should start working at the earliest. Perhaps the Sawant government can create more jobs in departments by evaluating the performance of the staff in service. Those who have been drawing salaries by just marking their attendance with little or no output should make way for new efficient blood. There are many who have got posts owing to the political influence they could exercise through the office of their MLA. Such employees often do not work hard – that is, if they can work in the way the job requires them to. The state government already has a very large number of employees on their rolls. The Sawant government must carry on with a downsizing programme together with merit-based recruitments.