Will not be tabled in this winter session as planned

Yangchen C Rinzin

People following the National Assembly (NA) sessions expressed their surprise when the NA shared its final agenda last week.

This is because the proposal to reduce the number of gewogs was not on the agenda. Many then questioned why the proposal would not be tabled in the upcoming session.

A few claimed that with many local government representatives raising issues, the government would have given to its pressure and dropped it.

Officials of the Department of Local Government (DLG), however, say the proposal could not be tabled because they are revisiting it after receiving feedback from local government officials.

Calling it ‘rationalisation of gewogs’, where the number of gewogs would be reduced by merging, DLG officials say they prepared three proposals and submitted it to the Prime Minister’s Office informally.

Each report details options on how the gewogs would be reduced nationwide.

DLG director, Kado Zangpo, said when they were finalising the report, they received written concerns from dzongkhag and gewog administration claiming the rationalisation would affect social and cultural fabrics in the communities besides service delivery.

“The multi-sectoral task force decided to review the report,” he said.

According to Kado Zangpo, many raised that different gewogs have different culture and if gewogs are merged without looking into such issues, the traditions and cultural belief would be hampered. “The task force agreed that these aspects were overlooked in the earlier report.”

He said some raised issues of historical and sentimental attachments. “The report was prepared based on the population, distance and geographical location.”

The rationalisation study started since 2012.

The director said that the report has many processes to be fulfilled, including the Cabinet approval, before tabling for the Parliament session.

Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen said there are many areas, which should be addressed before submitting the proposal to the Cabinet.

Agreeing that the rationalisation may not happen before the next LG election, Lyonpo said that it was important to relook into the report and conduct consultations that involve several stakeholders.

Meanwhile, this would mean that rationalisation of gewogs may not happen before the third LG election or during the ruling government’s tenure, as any Bills or proposal should complete three sessions to be passed.

Kado Zangpo, however, said it would depend on the government whether to pass the rationalisation and implement it before the upcoming LG election in 2021. “Even if the government pass the rationalisation report, the implementation can happen in the fourth LG election. But first, we need to complete the review and prepare the final report to be submitted to the government.”

Although officials refused to share how many gewogs would be reduced, Kado Zangpo said it was aimed to enable local governments to be creative in terms of job creation and administration efficiency. “It would also lead to a reduction in administrative and salary costs for the government.”