LG: For the last eight months, Khaptoe tshogpa Chola Samten has been suspended by the Samkhar gewog administration for misuse of public funds.

The gewog administration alleges that the tshogpa misused more than 50 percent of the budget allocated to procure timber for the renovation of Kadam Lhakhang. He is also supposed to have misused the woola tax payments made by gungtong (empty households) family members and the money collected as absentee fees.

Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji said that work to procure timber was contracted to the community a couple of years back. The tshogpa was appointed as the supervisor while an amount of Nu 450,000 was sanctioned to him.

“After villagers accused him of misusing funds, the gewog administration probed into the matter and carried out investigations,” he said. “It was clear that the tshogpa had misused public funds when he failed to meet payments for the timber.”

The tshogpa was then asked to refund the remaining amount of the budget. Despite holding a few public zomdus and giving enough time, he could not refund the money.

“Therefore, after putting up the case with the gewog tshogde, it was resolved that the tshogpa be suspended,” Sonam Dorji said. “We would have terminated him but provisions in the LG (local government) Act does not talk about the rights to terminate an elected member.”

When the case was put up to the district court, it could not be taken since it involved corruption. The matter was then taken to the dzongkhag administration and forwarded to the home ministry.

“The case is being reviewed and any further action from our side would entirely depend on the verdict from the concerned authority,” Sonam Dorji said.

Tshogpa Chola Samten claims that he didn’t misuse the funds and all allegations against him are false.

“I have all the receipts to show for the transactions made”, he said. “Since villagers have accused me of corrupt practices, I am waiting for the verdict before I pay back the leftover budget.”

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang