As a result, new projects cannot be endorsed

LG: Lack of a quorum to constitute a tshogde has affected the full-fledged functioning of the Phuentsholing thromde.

Elections in the thromde were held almost a year back in January this year. From the total of seven constituencies the thromde is made up of, only four members including the thrompon were elected.

The thromde is hopeful that the Election Commission of Bhutan would as soon as possible call another round of elections to fill up the remaining three vacancies.  Only then will the quorum be met and a thromde tshogde session can be held.

A minimum of five members are required to form a quorum for a thromde tshogde, the decision making body of the thromde.

In absence of a quorum, thromde officials they have not been able to approve big projects or frame regulations a thromde is empowered to. Decisions relating to financial matters have to be endorsed by a tshogde that is constituted only when the quorum is met.

However, the thromde was forced to conduct its first session in January even without a quorum. This means that the session was just a namesake thromde tshogde session to abide by the Local Government (LG) Act that states that the first session should be held within one month from the date of the declaration of the results.

The first session did not make any major decisions and since then no session have been held. The LG Act states that there should be at least three sessions of the thromde tshogde every year.

The first sitting of the LG should be convened within one month from the date of the declaration of results. That’s if the quorum is met.

“We had no quorum for the first session. At the same time the laws say that we have to conduct the first session within one month from the date of the declaration of the results,” Phuentsholing Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said.

Thromde officials sought suggestions of the home ministry whether the thromde could go ahead with the first sitting even without having a quorum. The thrompon said the ministry gave them the green signal.

“The ministry told us to go ahead with whatever we had in place so we held the first session,” he said.

He expressed concerns about running the thromde without fulfilling the legal requirements. “Who knows there could be audit objections later for breach of a law. It is a problem,” he said.

However, the thromde is handicapped when it comes to major important decisions such as endorsement of budgets and framing rules and regulations. “We haven’t been able to take big decisions such as endorsement of new projects,” Uttar Kumar Rai said.

Meanwhile, the thromde is implementing the projects that are endorsed by the previous thromde tshogde. “We form a thromde committee of officials to implement small projects besides implementation of the spillovers,” the thrompon said.

According to the LG Act, committees can be established by a local government for the purpose of specific functions. However, the law says members of a committee shall be elected from amongst the members of the local government.

The thromde also hasn’t elected its deputy chairperson although the LG Act requires it to have one to be elected from among the elected members. “We don’t have a thromde tshogde. How can we elect a deputy chairperson?” he said.

The thromde tshogde is the highest decision making body of the dzongkhag thromde. The thromde tshogde shall consist of not less than seven and not more than ten elected members, including the thrompon.
The thromde tshogde can approve land use and development plans in accordance with the laws made by Parliament. It also has to approve local area plans including land pooling schemes and any other relevant planning techniques.

The thromde tshogde can review and approve the annual budget to be met from its resources and review and endorse budget proposals for submission to the Ministry of Finance for funding where necessary.

The thrompon said the thromde has written to the home ministry and the election commission regarding the issue. An official from the Department of Local Governance said the department is looking into the matter.

MB Subba