The Cabinet on April 2 decided to extend the gaydrung’s (gewog clerk) tenure by another three years in accordance to the resolution of first National Assembly session.

In January this year, the National Assembly had decided to retain the post of gaydrung and to regularise their service as civil servants if circumstances were favourable. Last month, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) did not renew the contract of 74 gaydrungs it had recruited but a circular from the home ministry had instructed them to continue working until June.

However, the Cabinet’s decision, which comes on the heels of these earlier decisions has instructed the home ministry to look into the requirement of gewog administrative officer (GAO) and gaydrung in the gewog administration.

The letter also states that the ministry should review and look into the possibility of retaining either the post of gaydrung or GAO based on the convenience and need.

Should the review find it necessary to retain the post of gaydrung, the letter states that the ministry should then draft the terms of reference for gaydrung.

The cabinet also instructed the legal officers from home and finance ministries and cabinet to sit together and look into the legal issues.

Home minister Sherub Gyeltshen said although their tenure was extended by three months earlier to review the need of gaydrungs, the Cabinet has now approved the extension of all gaydrungs by three years.

Lyonpo said it was decided to extend and review because there were mixed responses from the local government where some preferred GAO while some cited the importance of gaydrung as well.

“Although the roles and responsibilities of both the posts are different, there is a need for both GAOs and gaydrungs,” he said. “Based on the cabinet directives, we’ll work out the modality for gaydrung.”

The issue on gaydrungs first arose after the RCSC’s OD exercise in 2016 pointed out that the post was not required. This is because the Local Government Act also does not have provision of gaydrung post. Unlike gaydrungs, GAOs are civil servants and under the purview of the RCSC.

For the 205 gewogs, there are about 175 GAOs today. Many GAOs left their posts after the RCSC lifted an almost two year long freeze of their lateral transfer in November 2018. Few resigned. About 32 of the 175 GAOs are on two-year contract. However, they are not entitled to any contract allowance besides a basic pay of Nu 16,365 and housing allowance.

The annual local government report 2016-2017 states that as a part of the permanent bureaucracy, GAOs have been critical to the smooth functioning of gewog administrations, which forms an integral part of the executive branch of the government.

Today, there are 199 gaydrungs of which 129 are the old ‘drungye’now serving as gaydrungs and they receive a lump sum payment of Nu 13,000 a month. Gaydrungs started serving in gewogs since the 1960s. The fourth pay commission report recommends the pay scale of gaydrung to be revised by 18 percent from Nu 13,000 to Nu 15,340.

Meanwhile, home secretary Sonam Topgay said that as per the cabinet directive, the ministry would carry out the necessary and comprehensive study immediately and prepare the terms of reference.

“We’ll submit the findings to the Cabinet,” he said. “We would involve the department of local government and all relevant stakeholders to carry out the review.”

Yangchen C Rinzin