Local leaders will get entitlements, says former home minister

Meet the press: The government believes the recent election of thromde thuemis in the three dzongkhag thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu was in keeping with the Constitution and the electoral laws of the country.

The statement from the government has come at the backdrop of arguments from some quarters that the election of the thromde thuemis was unconstitutional.

Foreign minister and former Attorney General Damcho Dorji said the Constitution of Bhutan requires that a dzongkhag tshogdu shall comprise an elected representative from the dzongkhag thromde. “It’s a question of interpretation,” he said.

The interpretation of some people, he said, was that the thuemi has to be from among the members of thromde tshogde. But the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is of the view that the thuemi has to be a separate elected member who is not a member of the thromde tshogde.

“I would go by the interpretation of the ECB because if it was supposed to be from among the members of thromde tshogde it should have read as one elected member as a member or thuemi from that thromde tshogde,” he said.

“As far as the government is concerned, I don’t see any problem,” he said. He said the practice of having a thuemi as a member of a dzongkhag tshogdu was already there.

On the entitlements, he said elected members of the local governments would be entitled to benefits as the Local Government Members’ Entitlement Act has been passed. “I feel there is no need (for the local leaders) to worry,” he said.

He said the rules and regulations of the entitlement Act need not pass through the Cabinet or the Parliament.

“They are entitled even without the rules and regulations (since the Act is already in place),” he said. He said that the rules and regulations have been drafted for the implementation of the entitlement Act.

“They will be getting their entitlements as per the entitlement Act and the rules and regulations,” he said. No benefits prescribed in the entitlement Act would be lost as the rules and regulations are derived from the Act.

 MB Subba