In a bid to ensure quality construction and reduce workload on engineers, the government will create a pool of technicians or supervisors that contractors can hire whenever needed, works and human settlement minister said.

However, the minister, who was attending the question-answer session at the National Council (NC), did not say when such a pool of supervisors would materialise.

Trongsa NC member Tharchen said that in line with the decentralisation policy of the government, local government (LG) officials have been empowered with significant financial authority along with the responsibilities of planning and monitoring all local development activities.

“There is lack of adequate professionals and human resource capacity to provide technical support at LG which has resulted in most development activities suffering from delays in implementation or poor-quality output,” he said. “This has resulted in returning huge government fund at the end of fiscal year as has been reflected in annual audit reports.”

He asked how the government intends to enhance the technical human resource capacity of LGs to ensure timely implementation of development activities and effective planning and monitoring to match the policy of major fiscal decentralisation?

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said one of the main constraints is the insufficient number of engineers and experts in the dzongkhags due to which many works are not completed on time resulting in budget returning to the central government.

“The local governments in every meeting raise the issue of insufficient numbers of engineers,” the minister said. However, she said, according to the list of engineers approved by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) after its organisational development exercise of the ministry, there is no dearth of engineers.

RCSC’s approved total number of engineers in the country was 331, of which 328 are in the field. Of the 218 approved technicians, such as plumbers, electricians, there are 28 more in the field today.

“Going by the number alone, we have enough,” Lyonpo said. “However, we are looking into how to improve the situation of poor quality constructions.”

The minister said that most people think an engineer can do everything from building a bridge, temple, road to house, which is difficult.

Another problem today is that one engineer has numerous work sites scattered across the gewog or dzongkhag, which hampers supervision or monitoring, she said.

“No matter how strong our policies are, it ultimately depends on the capacity of the human resources,” the minister said.

The minister said that most works of the LGs that suffer in quality are those executed by the petty and community contractors as they lack technical knowledge and expertise.

“It is difficult to get qualified contractors to bid for the works. Some of the contractors don’t even know how to calculate or submit a bill for the works,” she said. “The supervisors or technicians including engineers would help them ensure quality in their works.”

The ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jigme Namgyel Engineering College in Dewathang and College of Science and Technology in Phuentsholing to train the supervisors.

The engineers will also need to register themselves with the engineering council that the government will establish, before they start practicing.

Tshering Palden