Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has said that the Cabinet will not dictate the civil servants and that whatever it does would be in the country’s long-term interests.

“For civil servants, it should be what we think. Civil servants of the day must work in line with the vision of the political party. This is how the system is,” lyonchhen said.

The prime minister said this in response to a question at the Meet the Press yesterday on what the government’s expectations were from civil servants in implementing the 12th Plan and if there were fears of friction from the bureacracy.  

He said that civil servants would have to work with the political party that comes to power every five years and that the elected government doesn’t want to be separated from the civil servants and that the two are together.

“If there is an impression that the elected government need not listen to the bureaucrats, then we would be falling back to square one. We would not be able to progress,” he said.

The Cabinet and the bureaucracy, he said, must work together and that it was in recognition of this need that the government reinstated the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) in the government’s first week. “We would like to work together because there is no secondary of doing this,” he said, adding that the Cabinet members came from the civil service.

Most of the civil servants, lyonchhen said, will go through a political time frame. He said, “We are here for five years. They (civil servants) are there for 30 years. Yet, it won’t sound proper if we differentiate between the two. We will be working for long term interests of the country.”

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said the Cabinet is a part of the bureaucracy if it is to be considered the executive branch of the governance.

The foreign minister, who is also the government spokesperson, said none of the Cabinet ministers are members of National Assembly committees. “So the question of friction between the Cabinet and the civil servants does not arise. That friction arises only if you try to force something down on the civil servants,” he said.

Dr Tandi Dorji said that CoS would guide the Cabinet and coordinate the functioning of the government. He added that the government would be willing to listen to the bureaucrats if there were strong evidences to suggest that any of the Cabinet’s plans are not good for the long-term interests of the country.

Cabinet Secretary Kesang Wangdi said a closer engagement between the bureaucracy and the political leadership would help in the former lending its professional weight of their technical experience.

“There is no difference as there is a unity of purpose to serve the general will of the people and to fulfill the vision of His Majesty. So, that’s very clear,” he said.  “There were a few important points that came out from the National Day, and I have had very important discussions with the government. In fact, even before the CoS were instituted, the prime minister immediately said he would like to meet all levels of bureaucracy, which is happening as we speak,” Kezang Wangdi said.

The cabinet secretary said CoS was reinstituted with the view to have a closer engagement and that the CoS would work as an advisory body. The CoS, he said, would also offer policy options to the Cabinet.

A few of the important points that came from His Majesty’s address in Samtse, he said, were coordination, and free vertical and horizontal flow of information among ministries and within a ministry. He said that the prime minister was concerned about how the coordination among various bodies can be improved.

The cabinet secretary said that one of the ways of improving civil servants’ support to the political leadership was to promote strong accountability by following the political direction on how to implement projects in a target oriented and time bound fashion and be accountable to the political leadership.

Kezang Wangdi also said that the exposure that bureaucrats get through their interaction with external partners should be put to use to strengthen the bureaucracy. “The bureaucracy would strive to ensure that we fulfill the aspiration of the people and at the same time ensure we develop a frank relation with the neighborhood and beyond the neighborhood,” he said.

MB Subba