Although the last National Assembly had resolved to retain the post of gaydrungs, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) this month terminated the contract of 74 administrative assistants (gaydrung) after their contract ended on March 6.

The first session of the third Parliament in January had decided to regularise their service as civil servants if circumstances are favourable or make their service para-regular (long term contract).

While the Assembly had decided to review the issue, the RCSC during its 157th Commission meeting on March 12 decided that the contract term should expire on March 6 based on the directives received from the previous government.

However, the decision applies to only those 74 gaydrungs who were recruited by the RCSC in 2017 on contract for two years. There are a total of 199 gaydrungs in the country today. The remaining 125 are ‘drungyes’ who are today serving as gaydrungs.

An official from the Commission said that the two years contract agreement is a legal document and the Commission should execute when the contract term expires.

“There was no further directives from the present government on the Assembly’s decision so the contract was terminated as per its expiry date,” the official said. “And the contract term should be termed as terminated.”

Based on their contribution to the gewog administrations, the former government had extended the contract term until March 6, 2019 after the gaydrungs’ term ended in 2016.

The home ministry on March 5 issued an office order stating that as per the National Assembly resolution, the Cabinet has advised to extend their contract terms for another three months. The home ministry’s office order is however, not binding on the RCSC.

Kuensel learnt that the office order was not binding because it was not within the civil service’s purview and that it should be treated separately. The office order stated that the term should be extended until the completion of review.

The RCSC official said that gaydrungs were never part of the civil service and that the Local Government Act does not have provision for gaydrung’s post.

The issue on gaydrungs arose after the Commission’s OD exercise pointed out that their posts were not required. No rules or laws cover the gaydrungs and even if they serve their entire life, their remuneration would not increase beyond Nu 13,000 a month excluding allowances. While those 74 on contract received a monthly salary of Nu 11,125.

Gewogs such as Nanong in Pemagatshel, Doteng in Paro, Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse, Medtsho in Lhuntse, Drukjyegang in Dagana and Tsholingkhar in Tsirang are today without gaydrungs.

Home ministry’s chief human resources officer Sangay Thinley said that although the contract term was terminated, the 74 gaydrungs are still serving in the gewogs based on the home ministry’s officer order.

He said that in 2017, of the 205 gewogs, the Commission had appointed 74 gaydrungs to fill the vacant posts based on contract ranging from six months to two years.

“The RCSC’s termination of contract is only for 74 gaydrungs but for the home ministry, the contract for all 199 gaydrungs is until June 6,” he said. “The 74 gaydrungs would be out of the civil service’s system but would still serve based on the home ministry’s office order.”

Sangay Thinley said that the RCSC’s decision couldn’t be considered as official, as the termination of contract term was corresponded through email and not in an official letter.

“The extension was kept to three months so that the government could review and see if the post could be retained as part of civil service or on para-regular,” he said.

Since the Cabinet has not made a decision and the term terminated, he said, the decision might now be on whether to retain the post or place them under para-regular.

Gaydrungs started serving in gewogs since the 1960s. They were exempted from  (customary labour contributions) and were compensated in various ways. Their main duties then were to collect taxes and draft correspondences for the gups.  That changed over time, along with their benefits and salaries.

Local government rules and regulations mandate gaydrungs to collect taxes and insurance premium from villagers, facilitate land transactions, and take care of documents in the gewog office. In 2002, they were paid Nu 4,000 a month that increased to Nu 9,500. Daily allowance was increased to Nu 300 and porter pony charges to Nu 250 a day.  Following the revision in 2014 they are paid a consolidated salary of Nu 13,000.

Some of the gups Kuensel spoke to say that the post of gaydrungs were necessary since they handled all the works in the absence of gups and mangmis. They also have vast experience on land transactions and drafting of letters.

Yangchen C Rinzin