A notification issued by the Department of Local Governance (DLG) on September 12 has apparently affected some of the local government leaders by at least a month’s salary less. They are of the view that the notification is in violation of Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008 and Local Government Members Entitlement Act of Bhutan 2015.

According to the notification, the date on which the local government (LG) members are administered Oath or Affirmation of Office will be the day on which a member is declared elected and that entitlements of local leaders will be counted on from the date on which they are declared elected. However, the notification contradicts with some provisions of the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008, which treats LG members as “duly elected” from the day election results are declared. Also, section 7 of the Local Government Members Entitlement Act of Bhutan 2015 says that a member shall be entitled to salary, allowances, benefits and other emoluments from the day on which the member is declared elected.

So, where does the problem stem from? The provisions of the laws related to local government seem to lack clarity, leaving space for varied interpretations. That’s why DLG felt the need to issue the notification, to “harmonise the provision of the acts related LG”. The Constitution, on which the notification was based besides sections 109, 110 and 111 of Local Government Act of Bhutan 2009, says: “The member of Local Government shall take an Oath of Affirmation of Office, as provided for in the Third Schedule of this Constitution, before assuming their responsibilities.” Instead of streamlining the creases as was its real purpose, the notification has ended up adding to the confusion.

Going by the laws individually, they are all clear; implementation of the laws seems to be the problem. If DLG thinks that there is a need for clarity concerning entitlements of the local government leaders, maybe we should sit together and see how things could be straightened. The sooner we do this, the better.