MB Subba 

Following the government’s recent decision to do away with the post of gaydrung, gewog administrative officers (GAOs), mangmis and tshogpas will be taking up the gaydrung’s responsibilities, according to local leaders.

Some local leaders, however, said that they were waiting for clear directives from the government on the way forward on the issue.

The prime minister on April 6 issued an executive order asking gewog administrations to redesign the overall structure of the organisation and engage gewog administrative officers (GAOs) to the maximum by redefining their roles and responsibilities.

The executive order added that gewog administrations should not compromise on the service delivery.

A gup told Kuensel that the situation arising due to lack of a gaydrung would depend from one gewog to other.      

He explained that gewogs that did have educated mangmis and tshogpas could face problems.

The director of the department of local governance (DLG), Kado Zangpo, said the DLG had left it to gups to decide how the responsibilities would be divided.

He said the department would “wait and see for sometime” how the gup would assign the responsibilities. “A gewog administration facing human resources should report to the home ministry,” he said.

Some gewogs, he said, had reported that they did not have GAOs. He said that gewogs and the ministry would ensure that service delivery was not affected.

A gup from Samdrupjongkhar, Guman Singh Gaylal, said the job responsibilities of a gaydrung, such as collection of taxes would be done by GAOs, mangmis and tshogpas. “The responsibilities have been divided among officials in the gewog.”

However, some local leaders say that services of gaydrungs were still important and relevant in local governance and that doing away with the post would affect service delivery.

According to local leaders, one of the services gaydrungs offer to the people is drafting letters, which would cost at least Nu 500 should the service seeker get it done through a private consultant.

The Tsirang Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) last month requested the prime minister to retain the post, stating that gaydrungs played an important role in delivering the public service.

Local leaders from Tsirang, however, said they had not received any response from the prime minister’s office.

The deputy chairperson of the Tsirang DT, Santa Lal Powrel, said that having gaydrungs was crucial in gewogs that do not have qualified local government members. “Gaydrungs are still important in view of providing quality services.”

The Centre for Local Governance and Research’s executive director, Tharchen, said one of the direct impacts of the doing away of the gaydrung post would be on the service delivery.

He said that the quality of infrastructure could also be affected as gups and GAOs would not be able to give enough time for monitoring development activities given the increased responsibilities.

He added the newly elected LG leaders would take some time to know about the community and the working culture.

Tharchen added gewogs have the risk of losing “institutional blocks” of local governance as elected local leaders “come and go”. “It was the gaydrung who carried out and nurtured this institutional linkage.”

He said that the lack of gaydrungs would affect the quality of services at the local level.