Yangchen C Rinzin

The already delayed amendment of Local Government Act 2008 is yet again deferred for deliberation. The National Assembly members deferred deliberating it in the second session of the Third Parliament in June last year.

NA members yesterday decided to deliberate on the LG Act (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the fifth session of the Parliament, which would be the winter session of 2020.

Citing the need for intensive discussion, comprehensive study and consultations, Home Minister Sherab Gyeltshen, a member in-charge of the Bill, moved the motion to defer the deliberation of the Bill.

He said that while reviewing the Bill, the committee formed to review the Act felt that there were many sections that really needed to be re-looked and studied intensively.

“Although it was deferred earlier, during the review it was found that if it amends only some sections of the Act, it would not solve many issues related to the local government,” Lyonpo said. “We don’t want to rush for amendment and fall short in the responsibilities, which is why we are submitting to Parliament to defer.”

Lyonpo added that the longer it takes, it is only going to benefit in the future.

It was learnt that the committee members gave similar reasons for deferment during the second session too.

By a show of hands, 27 of the 44 Members of the Parliament (MP) voted for the Bill to be tabled in the fifth session despite a few members opposed for the deferment.

Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said that the draft Bill should have been ready by now and deliberation of the Bills should not be deferred.

On asking why the government decided to defer the Bill, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that although the committee is ready to submit the Bill in the fourth session, a need was felt to look into the disconnection between politically elected central government, local government, and bureaucrats.

Lyonchhen also highlighted on the disconnection between the central government to work with the local governments, which is why the committee feels the amendment require time to review. “It requires consultation and review with many stakeholders because we want to look into how it would benefit the entire local government in the future. We don’t aim to amend only to benefit the coming LG election.”

Lyonchhen argued that deferring the deliberation is for the general benefit so that people do not feel that any government could change the LG Act. “We want to do a comprehensive review before tabling in the next session. It is not about timing or how soon the Bill is tabled but to come up with a comprehensive Act.”

The good governance committee in the last session had proposed amendment to make it necessary for gups, mangmis and thromde thuemis to have a minimum of Class X qualification.

The LG Act was one of the Acts that the law review taskforce had recommended for amendment.