Early resignation puts retirement benefits at stake, if they at all come through.

LG: Gelephu thromde has two thrompons. While the tenure of the newly elected thrompon, Tikaram Kaflay, has already commenced the thromde’s first thrompon, Namgay is still serving in office.

Following a last-minute directive from the works and human settlement ministry, the first sitting of the second thromde tshogde was held on February 26.  And the first sitting of the tshogde is like the appointment of the thrompon as the tenure of a local government starts from that day.

The new thrompon has already presided over the first sitting even when Thrompon Namgay has not completed his five-year term. He will complete his term only on March 15.

The new thrompon though is not going to office. But even without joining his new office, he is entitled to salary as his tenure started from February 26.

With the institution of the new thromde tshogde, the government through a letter to the thromde has stated that the tenure of the first thromde tshogde is “deemed to have been completed”. The letter signed by the works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden acknowledges that there was some confusion in the dates in the electoral process.

“This is issued to safeguard the interest of the thromde and as the ministry responsible for urban development stipulated in section 210 of the LG Act of Bhutan,” stated the letter.

However, Thrompon Namgay faces the repercussions of premature resignation if he resigns before completing his term.

Early resignation also puts his retirement benefits at stake, if they at all come through. A member of local government must complete his full term to be eligible for retirement benefits.

“The first sitting was like my appointment,” Thrompon Tikaram Kaflay said. “I have already got my sitting fee for the first sitting,” he added.

Namgay however did not attend the first sitting of the newly constituted thromde tshogde. He said the confusion has put him in a difficult position.  He said that he is “insecure” to resign before the completion of his term.

He fears that the audit authority may ask him to refund the election expenses for premature resignation. “I have served with full dedication and loyalty. I don’t want to leave office with a lot of confusion,” he said.

Namgay said the ministry’s clarification that the tenure is “deemed to have been completed” does not mean that the term is over. “The term is deemed to be over, but it’s actually not over,” he said.

Thrompon Namgay said that the ECB earlier informed him that the government has the prerogative to dissolve a local government. “If it was so, the ECB should have asked the government to dissolve the thromde tshogde before the elections, which they didn’t do,” he said.

“The new thrompon might think that I’m not paving the way for him,” he said.

The new thrompon Tikaram Kaflay is waiting for Thrompon Namgay to complete his term. He has asked officials in the thromde office to call him when the latter leaves office.

Although he has held the first sitting of the thromde tshogde, he has not gone to his new office. “I will join as soon as the present thrompon leaves office. I’m ready to assume office anytime,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tikaram Kaflay has already started receiving invitations to official programmes as thrompon. “I’m already attending official functions as thrompon though I’m not going to office,” he said.

During the first sitting, the thromde tshogde besides endorsing the budget proposal for the financial year 2016-2017, new thromde tshogpas were briefed on the Local Area Plans and the structural plan. A few other miscellaneous issues were also discussed.

MB Subba