Ministries and agencies to be merged 

Rinzin Wangchuk

If the upcoming winter session of the Parliament endorses the Civil Service Reform Bill 2022, the existing 10 ministries would be downsized to nine.

Ministries  are proposed to be renamed and agencies reorganized  to “build a better future that is progressive, relevant, and responsive to changing times.” According to the draft Bill, some ministries, departments and authorities were merged and some new departments  were created.

Three ministries – labour and human resources, information and communications and economic affairs – have been merged to form the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment, responsible for employment and labour, industry, trade, commerce, industrial properties, information and media.

Under this proposed ministry, the office of consumer protection (OCP) will be construed as the competition and consumer affairs authority. The Tourism Council of Bhutan is renamed as Department of Tourism and both Bhutan Standard Bureau and Company Registry will also function under this ministry.

The Film Commission and Media Council will be merged and would be brought back under the jurisdiction of Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Authority (BICMA).

The existing agriculture and forests ministry has been divided to create two ministries. 

While the new Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is responsible for agriculture, livestock, marketing and cooperatives of biodiversity, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources will look after forest and parks.

The National Environment Commission has been changed to the Department of Environment and Climate Change and a new ministry department, Department  of Water is created. Both are under the energy and natural resources ministry.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport will replace the works and human settlement ministry. Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) and the Department of Roads will be merged as the Department of Surface Transport to carry out the development functions related to surface transport.

The Bill also proposes the regulatory functions under the existing laws for the department of roads, RSTA, and construction development board to merge and function as the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority.

The Ministry of education is renamed as the Ministry of Education and Skills Development responsible for technical, vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development, curriculum, schools, qualifications and youth and sports. Currently, TVET is under the labour and human resources ministry.

The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) secretariat will function under the education and skills development ministry. Bhutan Medical and Health Council, Bhutan Board for Certified Counselors, Engineering Council, Tertiary Education Board, Department of Occupational Standards will be merged to function as Bhutan Qualification and Professional Certification Authority. This will be the competent  authority  for  qualification accreditation, professional certification and National Qualification Framework.

Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment is retained as it is.

Under the renamed Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development Commission will be merged to function as the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development.

The disaster management department and the local governance department will merge and function as the Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management. The ministry will also be responsible for civil registration and census, immigration, law and order.

External trade is included in the ministry of foreign affairs to form the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, while a new agency, external resources is created under the finance ministry.

Under the Ministry of Health, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) and Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) will merge and function as Bhutan Food and Drug Authority.


Government Technology Agency

The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DITT) will be  the Government Technology Agency. It  will carry out functions related to information,  communications and technology and space in the country including the formulation of policies, adoption of rules or regulations and implementation of related laws.

If Parliament enacts the Bill as proposed, the Gross National Happiness Commission secretariat will function as the Planning and Policy Agency under the Cabinet secretariat.

The Bill also stated that the Lhengye Zhungtshog shall alter the organisational structures in ministries including the renaming of ministries upon the recommendation of the RCSC, if required.

The concerned ministry, according to the civil service reform Bill, may constitute a commission, council, committee or authority members to carry out delegated functions of the ministries.

The Bill also proposes to delink the judicial service personnel of the judiciary from the civil service.

The state prosecutor, Office of the Attorney General (OAG), according to the Bill, will compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules. The OAG will be the depository of all laws.

Bhutan Electricity Authority will be renamed as the Electricity Regulatory Authority and report to the energy and natural resources ministry.

Kuensel learnt that the eighth session of the third Parliament is scheduled to begin from the first week of November.