Mayors of Gelephu, Phuentsholing, and Thimphu will complete their term in January but the entitlement rules will not be ready then

LG: With the home ministry requiring few more months to complete the Local Government Entitlement Rules and Regulations (LGERR), the three thrompons completing their terms next month may miss out on the new benefits.

Thrompons of Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Thimphu are due to complete their five years term at the end of next month.

However, local government department’s director general Dorji Norbu said the LGERR and the rates of entitlements would be in place before the end of 2015-16 fiscal year.

“Unlike the LG Rules and Regulations, which took a long time, it will be ready much before June,” the director general said.

The preliminary draft is ready and the department is waiting to present it to the minister.

“After the presentation, consultation with the local governments would follow,” he said.

Finance ministry Namgay Dorji said the rules and regulations would need to be endorsed first for his ministry to work on it.  “Only then would the finance ministry be able to comment on whether the thrompons would be eligible retroactively,” he said.

The minister in his response to the National Council’s question on the status of implementation of the LG entitlement Act 2015 said, that the rules and regulations would be first presented to the government.

“Upon approval, the government may constitute a Pay Commission,” lyonpo said.

“The budget requirement will be appropriated in the annual budget of the local government once the Pay Commission recommends the rates along with other benefits or entitlements.”

The Parliament enacted the LG Entitlement Act in the summer session this year.

The government is estimated to spend about Nu 20 million (M) more annually, as mobile voucher allowances and earned leave encashment for local government (LG) members. Of this, the earned leave encashment alone is estimated to cost the government over Nu 16M.

Without the entitlement Act, there was no fixed allowance for LG members, and all allowances depended on the government.

In the past sessions, the entitlements did not come through considering the economic situation of the country, and also the second Pay Commission didn’t approve it.

National Council, in a written question, had asked why there was a delay in implementing the Act despite it receiving the royal assent.

“It was passed in urgency to benefit the present local government post holders,” a National Council member said.

The Act, which the previous government drafted, also took time to table, as the home and finance ministries could not complete the procedures.

The Act entitled the local government leaders, including those of thromde to pension, provident fund, and gratuity with leave entitlements similar to civil servants.

There are 1,044 elected LG members today.  Currently, gups earn a daily sustenance allowance of Nu 750, while tshogpas earn Nu 300.

Tshering Palden