Moving beyond the laws

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.”

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    This post only touches the matters concerned with issues related to our democratic systems in place. I can only expect a master in the studies of political science to clarify matters when it comes to confusion like these. But as a very ordinary informal student of that same subject, I always get confused with that very ‘relevant authority’ thing.

    And I assume that we are trying to understand ‘relevant authorities’ decentralised, distributed and un-bundled from ‘centralised central’ to ‘decentralised local’ governments or more precisely governing authorities set up under provisions of different laws and acts.

    If one set of any ‘governing authorities’ directly control to rule supreme over another set of ‘governance’ in place; it’s bound to create confusion. Similarly, one set of laws directly or indirectly controlling another set of laws are bound to create confusion. At least, I get confused whenever I think on that line and there is hardly a ‘relevant authority’ in place to clarify simple doubts of a common citizen like me in any nation.

    Who should be considered the more relevant a authority between ‘legislature’ and ‘governance’! Should one be decentralised, is it to expect that the other one is bound to become an un-bundled effort! If both becomes decentralised; there will be conflicting forces to understand between a law and law, between a governance and another governance and also between a law and a governance. So it’s true that we need our laws to be harmonious, but exactly how do we achieve that?

    In an attempt to de-centralise governance, we can’t expect that our laws and legislature will become totally un-bundled. That’s bound the create confusion. But it’s good to know that RCSC has recently introduced a system of 5 layer super structure model. The taller it gets, the more complicated our structures become. If things need to be decentralised and yet remain highly in synchronisation, there must be a central effort made and sustained through a very central authority. But we need a quality collective system, but not a bundled effort and that too decentralised.

    But the confusion with relevant authorities remain as it is. We can’t even expect the judiciary to be a totally flat organisation. After all, human resource development and its management in any organisation is bound to have an unique pattern to it. And that’s exactly where our synchronisation or harmonisation efforts get a bit un-bundled.

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