LG: In what is a relief for Phuentsholing thromde and Lingzhi gewog of Thimphu, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) has announced that a fresh round of Functional Literacy and Possession of Skills Test (FLT) will be held on February 3.

The thromde and the gewog have remained without their tshogdes, which are the decision-making bodies.

From the total of seven constituencies Phuentsholing thromde is made up of, only four members including the thrompon were elected. Similarly, there are only three elected members in Lingzhi gewog – the gup, a mangmi and a tshogpa.

There should be at least five elected members to constitute a quorum for a thromde tshogde. The criterion is the same for a gewog tshogde.

A thromde administration or a gewog administration is handicapped without a quorum. Important decisions most be passed by a tshogde.

Elections in Phuentsholing thromde were held in January last year, but three thromde tshogpa constituencies have remained vacant since. In two of the constituencies, the lone candidates received more “No” votes than “Yes” votes.

In Lingzhi gewog, there are five tshogpa constituencies, but four are vacant due to a lack of candidates. Elections in the gewog were held in September.

Gewog and thromde budgets have to be endorsed by a tshogde. Lingzhi gup, Wangdi, said the gewog administration faced difficulties when it came to allocation of gewog development grants (GDG).

“I approached the dzongdag and he advised me to go ahead even if there was no quorum for a gewog tshogde,” he said. “Three members decided in consultation with the people. Otherwise, the budget would lapse,” he said.

In absence of tshogpas, chiwogs would not be represented properly in a gewog tshogde. Rest of the gewogs have gewog tshogdes but many of them do not have tshogpas in all chiwogs.

The FLT has been announced for 60 vacancies in 18 dzongkhags. Applications should be submitted by the end of this month.

Those already holding the test certificates need not appear the test again.

The gewog and the thromde are hopeful that the ECB would as soon as possible call another round of elections to fill up the remaining vacancies. Only then will the quorum be met and tshogde sessions can be held.

In an earlier interview, Phuentsholing thrompon said the thromde has not been able to approve big projects or frame regulations. Decisions relating to financial matters have to be endorsed by a tshogde that is constituted only when the quorum is met.

The thromde had earlier requested the ECB and the home and cultural affairs ministry to call elections. “We requested the ECB to hold elections during the election time but there was no response,” the thrompon said.

The thromde is handicapped when it comes to major important decisions such as endorsement of budgets and framing of rules and regulations. The thromde also hasn’t elected its deputy chairperson although the LG Act requires it to have one from among the elected members.

The thromde tshogde can approve land use and development plans in accordance with the laws made by Parliament. It also has to approve local area plans including land pooling schemes and any other relevant planning techniques.

The thromde tshogde can review and approve the annual budget to be met from its resources and review and endorse budget proposals for submission to the finance ministry for funding where necessary.

Gasa, Mongar, Pemagatshel and Paro do not have thromde ngotshabs, a post equivalent to the mangmi.

MB Subba