Position of thromde thuemi unclear

The local government Entitlement Act is expected to provide clarity on the issue

LG: The first three thromde thuemis of the Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu thromdes are yet to hear from the government on how their position will be classified.

The thuemis will be added to the list of members of the dzongkhag tshogdu. However, it is not clear yet if the post will be equivalent to that of the other members of the dzongkhag tshogdu, which include mangmis and gups.

The thromde thuemi of Phuentsholing Bimal Kumar Ghallay said he believes that his post and salary should be equivalent to that of a mangmi. “I have been told that we are at par with mangmis and we expect our salary to be equivalent to that of a mangmi,” he said.

The Election Act defines a mangmi as the deputy head of the gewog administration and the deputy chairperson of the gewog tshogde. However, it does not specify the roles and responsibilities of a thromde thuemi besides being a mere “representative” to the dzongkhag tshogdu.

Unlike tshogpas from thromdes and gewogs, a thuemi represents the whole thromde.

The thuemi-elects said they contested for the post without having a clear idea of financial benefits and their roles in the local government. “I think officials will inform us about our entitlements and position classification before we take office,” he said.

Thimphu’s thuemi Kinley said many voters cast their votes without knowing about the new post. Unlike his counterpart from Phuntsholing, he believes that thuemis will be treated at par with a tshogpa.

Ideally, thromde thuemis should be members of the thromde tshogde since they represent the thromde tshogde in the dzongkhag tshogdu. This would have been possible if thromde thuemis were to be elected from among thromde tshogpas or the thrompon.

Electing a thuemi from outside the thromde tshogde means that the thuemi will have to represent his constituency without having participated in the thromde tshogde. The Election Act provides for an elected representative of a thromde to be in the dzongkhag tshogdu, but it does not specify if he or she should be chosen from among the members of the thromde tshogde.

The legal provision regarding thromde thuemis in the Election Act is a direct replication of Article 22 of the Constitution, which states members of a dzongkhag tshogdu will include a representative from the thromde. The Act does not define a thuemi’s roles and responsibilities.

Bimal Kumar Ghallay said the government should first provide them with an orientation programme as they are not clear about their roles and responsibilities. “We are not clear about our roles as thuemis,” he said.

“I heard that we have to learn the Acts of Bhutan,” he added.

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) also believes that thuemis are equivalent to thromde tshogpas and that their salary and other perks should be fixed accordingly. “Thuemis go through the functional literacy test like tshogpas,” ECB’s spokesperson Sonam Tobgay said.

He also added that while the ECB holds elections for such posts, it is the responsibility of the Department of Local Government and other relevant agencies to determine their salaries and sort out other issues.

Home Minister Dawa Gyaltshen said salaries and other benefits of thuemis would be decided as per the local government members’ Entitlement Act. “But I can’t give the details right now,” he said.

On monetary benefits, the local government members’ Entitlement Act states a member of a local government is entitled to a monthly salary as per the rates approved by the government. Such entitlements can be revised from time to time.

MB Subba 

2 replies
  1. sibidai
    sibidai says:

    The confusion arises on the clauses / conditions because rules have been framed by bureaucrats (with regular monthly income ( besides other supplementary sources ) to boast and sustain themselves. Remember Law is never the problem, the problem lies with people who misuse it for certain personal gains.

    Take case of Tseten Dorji – he has been a businessman his entire life. He has had good income source to enable him to stand as an candidate yet gets disqualified because of some unused Trade License effectively dugout and exposed at the right moment. The flip-side is if any candidate has no income/asset to declare the same law would have debarred him to stand for election citing lack of fund. So how would it be possible to satisfy ludicrous catch-22 clauses that exist in our law books? Still none seem to be the wiser because govt rules can never be wrong and should be accepted even if they are faulty even if any legally capable person can shred it threadbare given the opportunity.

    I feel the fault lies not with the candidates and their genuine desire to serve the community. Its more of lack of far-sighted rules formulating body and scribes along with history of hurried instant problem solving attitude of the bureaucrats to blame in creating confusion in laws, its interpretation, implementations and tweaking it to suit the favoured ones.

    All talk of constitutional fairness will remain just – talk – until we learn to separate legislation, judiciary and bureaucracy and keep it safely apart and safe.

  2. irfan
    irfan says:

    There have been some confusions regarding these matters with local governance; haven’t been there? Only yesterday we were discussing the issue with the cancellation of the candidature of P’ling thrompon candidate and its clash with the ‘office of profit’ clause. Here is another matter with the position classification of elected Thromde thuemies. In democratic governance, there is an obvious intention to keep the apolitical executive arm of government separate and independent from the purely political arm responsible for legislative law and policy making.

    But today’s common man is about a perfect blend of IQ, GK and commonsense. So the question is how does a common man like him look at this situation…whether to consider any office of local governance a political one or purely an ‘office of profit’. Even while holding a purely political office, one does get government provided salary, benefits and other perks. Probably matters are slighly different within a political party when it comes to internal administration and governance of the party.

    In India, even the member representatives to local governance are usually members of political parties and there may be positions which remain apolitical. The Bhutanese system is different. While being remained elected members, the position classification is more about politically executive than merely legislative in local governance and that’s only to my understanding. But every such member is going to held an ‘office of profit’. Even the elected members of the parliament get to held multiple portfolios or head multiple offices within the domain of political governance.That way if ECB thinks that everything is fine within the provisions of the ‘Election Act’; there may be a case for the government to revisit a few clauses in the ‘Local Governance Act’. The ‘Entitlement Act’ should anyway fall into places while the ‘Constitution’ remains supreme to all acts.

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