… the contract of the gewog clerks expired yesterday 

MB Subba 

The contract of about 194 gaydrungs (gewog clerks) across the country, whose contract terms ended yesterday, are waiting for the Cabinet’s decision on whether or not to retain their post.

The Department of Local Governance (DLG) has submitted a proposal to the Cabinet on the need to retain the post in local government administration.

The gaydrungs had jointly appealed to the government through the DLG on March 7 for an extension of their term by another five years.

DLG Director Kado Zangpo said that the department had conveyed the gaydrungs’ appeal to the Cabinet citing the benefits of having gaydrungs. The department, he said, was waiting for directives from the government.

Gups Kuensel talked to said that the service of gaydrungs was still important although their responsibilities have slightly reduced with the introduction of community centres at gewogs.

Tsendagang Gup from Dagana, Bal Bdr Rana, said that gaydrungs help service seekers to fill up forms and draft letters for those who cannot write besides carrying out regular works like collections of taxes and insurance.

“It would cost more than Nu 200 if a person has to get a letter drafted or form filled up outside the gewog office,” he said.

Sarpang’s Chhudzom Gup Bisnu Prasad Rai said that services would be affected if the post of gaydrungs were done away with.

“The gaydrung stays at the office to provide services to the public when the elected officials like the gup, and the gewog administrative officer (GAO) attend meetings at the dzongkhag,” he said.

One of the gups said that services of gaydrungs were more important than that of GAOs.

According to him, as most gups and mangmis are educated, gewog administrations could do without GAOs, if they had gaydrungs.

The LG officials said that gaydrungs are not entitled to retirement benefits, as their appointments are not governed by the RCSC rules.

Lingbukha gaydrung from Punakha, Dorji Wangchuk, said that the appeal was based on the outcome of a recent meeting of gaydrungs. “We are anxiously waiting for a response from the government,” he said.

Saling gewog gaydrung Jigme Thinley from Mongar said that gaydrungs wanted their contract extended by the government if the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) did not accept them.

He said that many gaydrungs had dependents to support and that they were looking forward to a positive response from the government.

The gaydrungs said that they had been in contact with government officials through social media groups and that they were hopeful of the contract being renewed.

The RCSC last month had rejected the government’s proposal to recruit gaydrungs on a consolidated contract under the civil service to retain the post.

The RCSC reasoned that there were no gaydrungs mentioned in the position classification of civil servants.

The DLG, however, states that Article 22(19) of the Constitution states that local governments shall be supported by administrative machinery staffed by civil servants.

Successive governments have extended the gaydrungs contract in the past years. The Cabinet had last extended gaydrungs’ contract in April 2019 as per the resolution of the National Assembly.

A study report conducted by DLG in 2019 states that an overwhelming majority of the population considered gaydrung as a critical component of public service delivery at the local government level.

The past conferences of dzongdags and gups have also acknowledged the critical role of gaydrung in LG administrations.