There is still a great deal of vagueness on power and authority between the local governments and the central authorities.
As our democracy deepens year by year, the issues are becoming more legalistic with institutions often locking horns over power and authority. Therefore, relevant authorities must clarify the issues as and when they surface. The relevant authorities must also create an enabling environment for the promotion of good governance, rather than sweeping the issue under the carpet only for it to resurface at a later date, in a nastier form like some deadly disease left unattended.
The recent issue of abolishing the post of geydrung and the government’s decision to merge the dzongkhag forestry sector with the national parks and territories, provoked an outcry from some of the local governments, such as the ones highlighted at the recent dzongkhag tshogdu of Bumthang and Wangdue. It is an opportunity at such times to clarify the issues by the relevant authorities for smooth functioning henceforth.
Article 22 of the Constitution on Local Governments (LGs) specifies that power and authority shall be decentralised and devolved to elected LGs to facilitate the direct participation of the people, and also for LGs to ensure that local interests are taken into account in the national sphere of governance. Perhaps, based on these legal provisions, the LGs are sending signals that their voices need to be heard and consulted on the local development and management issues, which have an impact on the LGs, before any decision is taken by the central authorities.
However, the central authorities are also bound by the Constitution and their respective Acts to discharge their functions and mandates. Therefore, any decision taken would always be backed-up by strong legal provisions.
For example, on the issue of geydrungs, who we understand are not civil servants, the Constitution states that “Local Governments shall be supported by administrative machinery staffed by civil servants.” So there is need to regularise the services of incumbent geydrungs as civil servants.
Everyone is legally right. But in absence of consultations within the various institutions, it is creating confusion, breeding resentment and could potentially bring disharmony if left unattended.
Therefore, we need to carefully examine our existing laws and harmonise them. Further, we must move beyond legality of who is right or wrong and institute a culture of consultations for issues that have far reaching consequences.
We need to promote what His Majesty The King said in His 2010 National Day address to the nation: “Of paramount importance to the strength of a nation, is the ability of her people to live as one united family – a community in which interaction is marked by trust, understanding and cooperation.”