Yangchen C Rinzin

The community centres across the country have to wait some more before the government can resolve their management issues as the Prime Minister awaits a task force report.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has asked the task force to study the ownership issues on community centres (CC) and recommend a possible resolution to the problems.

This comes after 212 CC operators including seven operators on standby, had appealed to the Prime Minister in November last year to look into the possibilities to regularise their services either with the gewog administration, Bhutan Development Bank Ltd (BDBL) or any other relevant agency.

Almost a decade after the CC was established, the operators are still looking for a parent organisation that would take ownership of the centres.

Lyonchhen said that although the task force had prepared the first report, it had only mentioned the advantages and disadvantages if CCs are kept with the BDBL or local government.

“This is why I asked the task force to rework on the study through self-sustaining mode, look into possibilities to create activities, which will be cost-saving for the government,” Lyonchhen said.

“I asked them to collect all the activities of different banks, institutions, agencies, ministries and government to citizens (G2C) activities to see if those can be incorporated with the CCs.”

The operation and management of CCs were under the Bhutan Post Corporation when it was launched in 2011. Its operation and management were handed over to the BDBL in 2015.

Lyonchhen said that the first report submitted by the task force was unclear on what should be done to address the current issues raised by the operators. “The only concern right now is way forward and not what happened in the past.”

“I am also seeking suggestions from the CC operators through social media (WhatsApp). They keep asking me on the status of the issue and share their grievances.”

Lyonchhen said it was not easy to come up with the decision and there are numerous aspects that have to be looked into before tagging them with any agency.

BDBL requires government’s subsidy of Nu 230M if it has to continue managing the CCs.

“If I had that budget then why not give it directly to the CC as seed money. We really want to look into how to use them and in a way that would benefit them and the communities instead of giving the subsidy that does not guarantee their job security.”

The operators had also requested for salary revision in the appeal. The operators received a salary of Nu 7,245 for past 10 years.

Lyonchhen, however, said that without ownership or proper management structure there was no basis for the revision. “It might take some time for the task force to come up with the solutions.”

“I’m looking for the plan that was initiated earlier but there is no written document. Even the BDBL has no clear way forward document and I don’t want to go back why and how it was done. I am only concerned about the way forward.”

The overall goal of the CCs was to reduce poverty, empower communities, and improve the quality of life in rural areas.