The National Council (NC) yesterday resolved that the government must uphold the rule of law and implement the provisions of the Local Government Members’ Entitlement Act (LGMEA) 2015.
It resolved that it should provide clear directives to LG officials at the earliest about their entitlements.
This comes almost two and half years after the enactment of the LGMEA 2015, where its implementation lacks clarity and left more than 1,000 local government officials in a state of uncertainty mainly on earned leave.
The resolution was in response to the issue raised at the National Council, after Bumthang NC member Nima moved a motion to pass a resolution asking the government to expedite the drafting of the rules and regulations.
The government presented the pay revision report for members of the local government (LG) to the NC during its 19th session with the intent of revising the salary, allowances and other entitlements of the members of the local government.
“The NC proposed and adopted recommendations that pertained to travel and communication allowances and leave encashment,” Nima said.
Section 15 of the Act states, “A member shall be entitled to the following categories of paid leave: casual leave, earned leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and medical leave.” The leave entitlement as admissible under this section was to be stipulated in the rules.
Members said that there has been no clear directive from Department of Local Governance (DLG) and the home ministry on the payment of leave encashment to LG members.
They said that the third pay commission did not make recommendations for such entitlements despite the legal provision stipulated in Section 15 of the Act.
Nima said that during the re-deliberation of NC’s recommendations in the NA, the home minister reported that the ministry was drafting the rules and regulations, and that the concerns over leave entitlement would be resolved once the Cabinet endorses it.
The members said that the rules and regulations are yet to be finalised, and the draft do not contain any specific provision for leave encashment for LG members and that the finance ministry did not allocate any budget.
“Why did formulating the rules and regulations on the Act take long?” Samtse NC member Sangay Khandu asked.
Trongsa NC member Tharchen and Sarpang NC member Dhan Bdr Monger said that the government should pay the LG members their entitlements from the day they were elected, in arrears when the payment is made.
Section 7 of the Act states that a member shall be entitled to salary, allowances, benefits and other emoluments from the day on which the member is declared elected.
Members said the main obstacle in not paying the LG members their entitlements was the rules and regulations, which they urged the government to expedite and endorse at the earliest possible.
Wangdue NC member Tashi Dorji also moved the house on allocating budget for blacktopping the 22km Chuzomsa-Baylandra road.
The House resolved that the government, and the works and human settlement ministry must honour the decision of the Parliament expressed through the approval of the budget and accordingly ensure funding as well as the implementation of this activity.
A budget of Nu 130.441 million was approved by the Parliament in the 9th session in the 2017-18 annual budget for the blacktopping of Chuzomsa-Baylangdra road under Wangdue.
The budget was listed under the activities of roads sector to be funded by the government of India.
“The House regrets the fact that the works and human settlement ministry deemed this to be a mistake and reported that there is no budget allocated for the construction of this road,” the resolution to the government states.
If the ministry had made a mistake, members said it should have been submitted to the Parliament for redressal. “Only the Parliament can nullify what it has decided, not the ministry,” Samtse NC member Sangay Khandu said.
Tashi Dorji said that it was unlikely to be a mistake, as there were various agencies and officials involved in proposing the activity and accepting it in the budget.
Members asked if the activity was not included in the budget then where was the money allocated for the project.
Both the motions were endorsed unanimously with all 20 sitting members voting in favour on the last day of the session that was chaired by the deputy chairperson Tshering Dorji.