GAOs deserve a better deal

We read the concerns that Gewog Administrative Officers (GAOs) have raised regarding Royal Civil Service Commission’s (RCSC) letter to the home secretary last month as more than just valid and timely. If the real purpose of the move is to retain GAOs, RCSC could have resorted to a much more rational measure.

That the commission does not recommend or encourage GAOs to leave their position is giving GAOs a raw deal. They have a critical role to play in local government administration, but that shouldn’t in any way circumscribe their freedom to move around.

If GAOs want to change career, they have as all other civil servants the right to do so. There is something wholly unfair about keeping where they are by not issuing them No Objection Certificate.

This could be, as RCSC and Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs say, a temporary arrangement until an alternative solution is found. How soon can we expect the alternative solution to arrive? The longer it takes for RCSC and home ministry to come up with solution, the more unpopular the position of GAO will become. The impact on local government administration will be detrimental.

There is a need to look at why we have shortage of GAOs. Factors like perks and privileges play significant role in making jobs attractive. Currently, there is a power conflict between gups and graduate who serve under them. It may serve some real purpose if better structural arrangements are worked out instead of incarcerating the GAOs, so to speak.

It is only natural that GAOs today are disheartened and demotivated. This is against the backdrop of shortage of GAO in many gewogs. RCSC’s justification that GAO is a critical position in the local governance system is wearing thin with the kind of arrangement that it has settled on yet.

Efficient service delivery at local government level is critically important. Strengthening the position of the GAO is, therefore, monumentally significant. What RCSC’s present measure will do is only make the position of GAO unpopular. Raw deal is the least GAOs deserve.

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