New thromdes, new uncertainties

There may be some uncertainties surrounding the dzongkhag and yenlag thromde elections in the 16 dzongkhags. But what is certain is there will be 280 vacancies created excluding the coveted thrompon’s post and that of the executive secretary.

From an employment perspective, this is good as creating jobs has become an uphill task today. Jobseekers are continuously encouraged to become entrepreneurs and create jobs rather. Although the details are being worked out, the thromdes will create openings for many technical or vocational institute graduates.

What is also certain is that the pressure on the government’s coffer would increase as we chart out salaries and benefits for the 312 new posts. The Election Commission of Bhutan that will conduct the elections will not have to be concerned about the budget. It is guaranteed from the consolidated fund. Nu 275 million has been already allotted.

Officials have finalized the delimitation of Pemagatshel thromde yesterday, the last thromde to be finalized. Elections to the local government will start with the election of thrompons in three thromdes later this month and is expected to be complete by December this year.

The idea is that one year from this month, all 20 dzongkhags will have their thromde tshogdes in place and function as thromdes.

Then come the uncertainties of sustainability. With 30 people estimated in each thromde, the recurrent expenditure is going to eat into the exchequer. The concept is to make each thromde sustainable.

It may not be possible immediately. But from the experience of the four big thromdes, it is easier said than done. The existing thromdes are not meeting their current expenditure from the revenue collected from taxes and levies.

There are proposals to increase taxes, but this is not easy. Some villages are fighting to be out of the thromde boundaries fearing heavier urban taxes, which is identified as a source of revenue for the thromdes.

The new thromdes will take years to generate revenues. On the other hand, we have the Constitution mandating the local government to strive to achieve its developmental objectives “within its financial and administrative capacity”.  The Constitution also states that the government should allocate some budget towards making thromdes self-sustaining and self-reliant.

The decision is final. All the 20 dzongkhags will have dzongkhag thromdes. The real implication will be seen from the next fiscal year.

The thromdes are approved with an expectation to facilitate proper town planning and development in all dzongkhags and bring about balanced socio-economic development. If this objective is achieved, the cost will be justified. But how and when we achieve that is another uncertainty.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    As we go through an Act of Local Governance, it seems obvious that a local government in the form of a Thromde is a local unit for democratic governance. At the same time it can also be considered a financial asset created by the central governance. So we all expect a Thromde to fuel urban development through physical infrastructural asset creation. And there is always a balance to be maintained between a Thromde as a financial asset and the urban developments carried out by the Thromde as its physical assets.

    It’s an unfortunate scenario with an unemployment issue that forces us to consider even a Thromde as another employment opportunity. And it’s true that any Thromde will need the people to run, operate and manage it. The management of the Thromde is not only responsible for the planning of the development, but they also are the agents through which liquidity available with taxes in one fiscal gets freezed into different forms of physical assets in the following fiscals. And most of the times, the biggest challenge with our Thromdes is that they are either short or a bit stressed with alloted budgets.

    Sustainability of a Thromde becomes a painful issue for any government when physical assets created by it fails to employ its users in creating any form of other financial assets. So even end consumers of such development just want a direct employment opportunity with a job at the Thromde or they want to be the agents in simply developing the assets. That’s when we have the taps installed but without any running water or we have the waste water without the drains functioning. And every such assets do need the required maintenance. Depression, whether a state of the mind or the economy, is usually not considered healthy. When a selected few gets employed in a Thromde; the rest will only be depressed being deprived of an opportunity. And uncertainties will be once again with a Thromde creating jobs and assets only for consuming a financial asset already created and then pumping fresh taxes back to previous accounts for calculating deficits with positive or negative signs. So are we expecting something a bit new like a GNH Thromde?

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