LG: The home and cultural affairs ministry is consulting with gups and the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) on whether or not geydrungs (gewog clerks) are required.

The feedback received so far, according to the Department of Local Governance (DLG), is that the majority of local leaders who have been consulted want the post to be retained.

The discussion is being held in the wake of the RCSC’s recommendation to phase-out the post through its organisational development (OD) exercise. The RCSC is of the view that the responsibilities of geydrungs are now carried out by Gewog Administrative Officers (GAO) and accountants.

Earlier in March, a group of geydrungs came to Thimphu to request for difficulty and altitude allowances, and gratuity, which civil servants are entitled to. During their meeting with the RCSC Chairperson Dasho Karma Tshiteem, they were informed about the recommendation of the OD exercise regarding their future as geydrungs.

Home minister Dawa Gyaltshen, who the geydrungs also met, explained there was nothing he could do if the OD exercise recommended abolishing the post. However, the DLG soon decided to seek feedback from gups on whether or not the service of geydrungs is required.

In a written reply to a question from the National Council (NC) on how the home ministry intends to take the issue forward based on feedback from the local governments, the ministry has stated: “Discussion on retention and abolition of the geydrung post is still under way with the 205 gewogs and the RCSC.”

The ministry has informed that the recommendation of the OD exercise was based on the principle of maintaining a “small, compact and efficient civil service”. According to the recommendation, the post would be phased out when the existing geydrungs complete their current contracts.

The RCSC has recommended that their responsibilities should be reassigned to GAOs and accountants to ensure smooth transition.

The RCSC has suggested that geydrungs who meet the civil service entry eligibility criteria enshrined in Chapter 4, 5 and 7 of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR) 2012 can try and join the civil service through the normal channel.

Nubi gup from Trongsa, Tashi Palden, said it would be inconvenient for GAOs to shoulder the responsibilities of geydrungs in addition to their current responsibilities. He said GAOs have specific responsibilities such as collection of Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) data and looking after works related to human resource development.

“We need geydrungs. Some GAOs don’t know how to write letters in Dzongkha,” he said.

Dechheling gup from Pemagatshel, Sonam Rinchen, however said there would be no need of geydrungs if GAOs perform the works of geydrungs. “But some gewogs are big and GAOs may not be able to shoulder that additional responsibility,” he said.

Geydrungs are appointed for a fixed term of five years, subject to extension by the gewog tshogde based on their performance. They are paid a monthly salary of Nu 9,570 and are eligible for daily allowance equivalent to Nu 300 per day and Nu 250 porter pony allowance.

Parliament debates on pay hikes and the amendment of the Local Government Amendment Act have left out issues concerning geydrungs. This is because they are neither civil servants nor elected members of the local government.

The NC wrote to the government stating that having geydrungs allows members of the public to use them for a wide array of services ranging from writing letters, agreements, tax collection and office record keeping.

The post of geydrung was created along with the post of gup in the early 1960s. The role of a geydrung then was to assist the gup in collection of rural taxes besides drafting official correspondences.

With the enactment of the Local Government Act 2009 (which does not mention geydrung), the Gewog Yargay Tshogchug (GYT) Chathrim was superseded. However, under the Local Government Rules and Regulations 2012, geydrungs are recruited and appointed under the authority of the Gewog Tshogde.

According to the Local Government Rules and Regulations, a geydrung’s responsibilities include collection of tax and insurance premium, processing land transaction, maintaining records of official documents and performance of other official functions as directed by the gup, mangmi and gewog administrative officer.

MB Subba