Local government capacity questioned

Assembly: Local governments have been found to have inadequate human resources which resulted in poor quality and delay of the of gewog development grant-funded (GDG) activities.

This was pointed out in the latest Performance Audit Report on GDG 2016. The need to strengthen human resources in the LG offices was also pointed out in the Anti-Corruption Commission’s annual report 2015.

The National Council (NC) questioned the home and cultural affairs minister Dawa Gyaltshen yesterday as to what is being done to strengthen the human resource capacities in the gewogs.

Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen acknowledged the human resource shortage problem in the gewogs.

He said gewog administrative officer post has one of the highest attrition rates in the civil service. Remote posting, difficult working conditions and lack of basic amenities were pointed out as likely reasons for attrition.

The minister said under the government’s directive the RCSC has concluded the organisational development exercises for the dzongkhags. The commission has also formulated a common local government framework. Based on the OD exercise and the common LG framework the standard for staffing the dzongkhags and gewogs has been prepared.

In accordance with the staffing standard and in line with the provision of the LG Act, the government through the commission has earmarked a gewog administrative officer, an accounts assistant, and a junior engineer for each of the 205 gewogs.

In addition the government is also reviewing the proposal submitted by the ministry to mainstream the positions of the gewog geydrung or clerks in the civil service.

“We have deployed GAOs in all gewogs except for 15 which will be filled in the next few months,” the home minister said.

Karmaling, Khebisa, Lhamoidzingkha, and Tashiding gewogs in Dagana, Tsakaling, Jurmey, Narang, Silambi, Balam, Tsamang, Thangrong, and Drametse gewogs in Mongar, and Bartsham, Kangpara, and Shongphu gewogs in Trashigang do not have GAOs.

The minister admitted that there are practical problems in terms of placing accountants and engineers in the gewogs.

He said owing to the lack of internet connectivity and banking facilities it has been practically not possible to deploy them in the gewogs as their work requires using the internet.

Wherever there are dungkhags, the accounts assistants have been stationed there and given two gewogs to look after.

The engineers have specialised in different fields like other technical professions. As an interim measure, the engineers earmarked for the gewogs are retained with the dzongkhag engineering sector and they are mobilised by the sector to the gewogs based on the actual technical support needed by the gewogs.

“As of now, an engineer is tasked to look after activities ranging from 20 to 30 in a financial year,” the minister said.

The minsitry gave Nu 0.4 million  each to the dzongkhags to orient the newly elected LG officials.

He said that in the future, the ministry would place engineers based on the availability of engineers and the technical support needs of the gewogs.

With the dzongkhag development grant given to the dzongkhags, the workload of the GAOs and the engineers is bound to increase manifold with the increase in activities.

He said that the government has initiated the Human Resource Development Fund and is provided to the dzongkhags based on the fund allocation formulae considering the number of civil servants, the population of the dzongkhags and road access.

The highest fund to be used at the discretion of the dzongkhags is Nu 7 million and the lowest is Nu 3.5 million.

The issue of the geydrung post will be resolved soon, the minister said.

There are 134 geydrungs appointed on a five-year contract following the age-old norms without following the civil service rules.

He said the government has decided to take action when this lot completes their contracts in January 2017.

The ministry’s assessment on the need of geydrungs, by consulting the gewog and dzongkhag administrations, found that the clerks are necessary.

The ministry then submitted the report to the government and sought Cabinet directives. The ministry was directed to retain the clerks either on contract or as regular civil servants.

“We’re looking at certain parameters such as the actual need in terms of workloads in the gewogs, qualification and competency of the existing geydrungs, and qualification and competency standard with the Civil Service Rules,” the minister said.

Tshering Palden

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