Chhimi Dema 

Senior civil servants in executive or specialist positions travelled the most compared to those in lower positions in 2020.

This is according to the performance audit report on ex-country travels and short-term training in 2020 presented by the Public Accounts Committee’s chairperson and National Council’s Paro MP Ugyen Tshering during the joint session of the Parliament yesterday.

The committee observed that civil servants availed training that was “mostly” irrelevant to their professional and administrative backgrounds.

MP Ugyen Tshering said that the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) conducted the performance audit on ex-country training in 12 government agencies.

The review report revealed that the heads of the agencies endorsed short-term training without regard to the human resource committee’s decisions.

“The travel rules set by the government, such as using the direct and most economic routes, were not followed,” the review report states.

According to the Ministry of Finance’s Annual Financial Statements, in 2020, the government spent Nu 202.91 million (M) for travel outside Bhutan and Nu 1,939.87M for in-country travel.

In 2019, the government spent Nu 250.83M on travel outside and Nu 1,998.71 for travel within the country.

Comparatively, in 2020, travel outside the country was reduced, and in-country travel increased.

The review report states that the highest expenditure in short-term training went to paying the daily subsistence allowance (59 percent), compared with airline tickets (24 percent) and course fees (17 percent).

“Agencies did not conduct needs assessment, relevance, and impact studies for training,” it states.

The report further states that no agencies maintained their annual human resource plans.

It adds that the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC)’s computer systems such as Zhiyog Electronic System were not used, even though their use is supposed to be mandatory.

The committee recommended that agencies ensure strict compliance with the rules and regulations related to ex-country travels, and that the RCSC conduct annual human resource auditing of the agencies.