Rajesh Rai, Choki Wangmo, and Nima

As the second local government members end their tenure, members emphasised the importance of proactive dzongdags for development of a dzongkhag.

Calling the dzongdags the bridge between the dzongkhag residents and the government, LG members said dzongdags play an important role in decentralised governance.

Although gewog leaders have independence and authority when it comes to budget allocation, most look up to the dzongdag to provide efficient administrative support.

Chukha dzongkhag’s Lokchina gup, Indra Ghalley, said gewog tshogde (GT) and dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) members work hand in hand. “Dzongdags are observers in DT, but as head of the dzongkhag, they provide the guidance. Dzongdags also know central policies and help with making better decisions.”

He said that while developmental activities in a gewog are decided in the GT, important decisions are made in the DT. “All DT and GT members are answerable to the dzongdag.”

Wangdue’s Athang gup Khandu Dorji said that as the head of the dzongkhag, the dzongdag has the responsibility to look after every developmental activity in the dzongkhag.

He said dzongdags have a huge responsibility to ensure planned activities are implemented in the dzongkhag.

Sarpang’s Shompangkha mangmi, Ashman Rai, said dzongdags look after the overall development of a dzongkhag, maintain laws, and coordinate between elected members and the administration. “Since dzongdags sign an annual performance agreement with the government, they have the responsibility to ensure all planned activities are implemented.”

Jigmecholing gup, Kumar Gurung, said in decentralised governance, people play an important role to decide what developmental activities are needed in their locality as tshogpas propose it in the GT. “But a committed dzongdag will ask the priorities of the people and ensure DT and GT decisions are as per the policy and regulations in place.”

He said that with more rights and responsibilities for every citizen, it is important for a dzongdag to provide policy guidance.

A tshogpa in Denchukha in Samtse, Lila Dhar Chapagai, said a dzongdag has a huge responsibility for balanced development in a dzongkhag.

He said that as the people’s representatives at the grassroots level, they know what the people need. “A proactive dzongdag, who not only observes in the DT, but also consult people in the villages, will bring meaningful development in a dzongkhag.”

Trongsa’s Tangsibji gup Gembo Dorji said that it is important for elected members of LG and the officials of gewog and dzongkhag administration to should work together to achieve the common goal of improving the lives of the people.

“The dzongdag is a representative of His Majesty The King and everyone in the dzongkhag should work under his guidance.”

Local leaders said that they had exemplary dzongdags serving in the dzongkhag, but there are some who just completed their tenure having mostly played archery and not having done much for the locality.

“That is why dzongdags should be accountable to the DT chairperson,” a gup from Samtse said.

The gup, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said secretaries in the ministries are accountable to ministers. “DT members are elected by the people and dzongdags should be accountable to the DT chairperson.”

A mangmi in Tsirang said many dzongdags intervene and even try to control LG members, which is not their mandate.

Meanwhile, it is not only elected LG members who underscored the importance of dzongdag for development of a dzongkhag, but also civil servants.

A gewog administrative officer in Dagana, Lobzang Choda, said a proactive dzongdag ensures government budgets are utilized properly and that there is accountability and transparency amongst the local leaders and dzongkhag officials.

He said it is important dzongdags are approachable and listen to all sides of stories whenever there are issues in gewogs and dzongkhag. “When dzongdags are committed, a dzongkhag develops faster. Dzongdags have a huge role to empower civil servants in the gewog and dzongkhag. When we have motivated civil servants, people will receive better service.”

He said that it is important that a dzongdag does not just favour elected LG members, but look at the overall interest of the villagers and the country. “A proactive dzongdag ensures there are checks and balances in the gewog and dzongkhag.”

According to Lobzang Choda, the dzongdag sent reminders to gewogs to award work projects through gewog tender committees because most gewogs awarded projects through the gewog tshogde. “Such interventions help in streamlining things.”

The executive director for the Centre for Local Governance, Tharchen, said dzongdags make a huge difference while providing support to LG members and ensuring evidence-based decisions. “A proactive dzongdag not only manages civil servants in the dzongkhag professionally for effective service delivery, but also facilitate and coordinate with regional offices.”


Additional reporting by 

Nim Dorji in Trongsa