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