Recruitments to various posts in state government departments have been pending for almost two years. Vacancies, which are created every month following retirement of employees, have not been filled leading to shortage of staff. There are no signs that recruitments would be made any time soon, particularly in view of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s prolonged illness. Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, has practically been out of state since February, so naturally decision making on major issues including recruitment has been pending. Staff shortage in departments with a public interface means longer queues and delays in delivery of service to the common people. Unemployed youth aspiring for government jobs are also unhappy. There is also a growing concern among parties of the ruling combine that the holding of recruitments might bring in a harvest of public resentment at the next elections.
Government is the largest employer in the state. In November 2016, the then BJP-led government headed by Laxmikant Parsekar had banned recruitments to government and since then hardly a few vacancies in government departments have been filled up. The government had partially lifted the ban to allow recruitment of teachers in April 2017. In July this year Parrikar promised that the process for recruitment would begin in August but he failed to do so. He had announced that a centralised process would be followed to recruit subordinate government staff. However, the process to set up such a process seems to have been stuck in the bureaucracy somewhere, with no high officer taking any special interest in getting it done. Even if the government decides to go ahead with recruitments now it would take close to a year to fill up the vacant posts. The posts have to be advertised and due process has to be followed to select the successful candidates who pass the tests. Any recruitments now have to also take care of the election code as elections to the Lok Sabha would be announced in a few months from now. If recruitments are started now, they would have to be stopped until the results are announced.
A high-level empowered committee (HLEC) was set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister after ruling party legislators expressed concerns over government failing to fill thousands of vacancies. The aim for setting up the HLEC was to simplify the recruitment process and ensure timely selection of candidates and their placement. An inter-departmental committee of officers was also formed to check the requirements of staff of various departments and send the requirements of each department to the HLEC. With new system in place, the state cabinet ceased to be the authority to clear vacancies in various departments. However, with the Chief Minister being unable to perform regular duties the recruitment process has been delayed indefinitely. Based on the recommendations of the interdepartmental panel, the HLEC had given nod for filling up of 1,300 posts in the government departments, particularly police and prosecution, but the process is yet to make any headway for various reasons, including grant of administrative approval. There are over 1.25 unemployed youth on the live register of the employment exchange of the state. The government cannot go on holding recruitments indefinitely. It has to take a decision before the growing resentment among the common people and youth comes to the surface.
On one hand, the government has failed to fill the vacancies in its departments, and on the other, decided to relax the norms for private companies to recruit their staff from outside the state. With the withdrawal of requirement for the private companies to obtain a no-objection certificate from the labour and employment department before recruiting candidates from other states, the scope for employment for local youth has further shrunk. The NOC was made mandatory only four months back after a hue and cry was raised when some Goa-based firms held a recruitment camp in neighbouring Maharashtra and recruited candidates from other states. Private companies were asked to notify the number of vacancies to the government before making recruitments from among candidates from other states. In the absence of a single entity like subordinate staff selection board in other states, the recruitment process in the government lacks uniformity and allows those who have access to MLAs and those who can ‘buy’ jobs to get selected. With resentment among the common people and youth growing, the government should take a decision on recruitments without further delay. It is also high time a reliable recruitment system, which is free from manipulation for unbiased selection of candidates, is set up.