Yenlag thromde, more questions than answers

Update: Whether a yenlag thomde would fall under the administration of the geowg or dzongkhag is not decided more than a month after the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) had written to the government for directives.

The Cabinet is waiting for the works and human settlement ministry to bring the issue to them.

While some works and human settlement officials denied having seen the election commission’s letter, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the letter was with the works and human settlement ministry. “The cabinet is yet to decide on the issue,” he said.

The ECB sought government’s directive to help the commission to chart out its election strategy for the upcoming local government (LG) elections, which is set to begin early next year.

Works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said that she has not read the ECB’s letter.

Lyonpo is of the view that the decision to allocate yenlag thromdes should be based on the proximity of the yenlag thromde to the gewog or dzongkhag centres. “It could differ from one dzongkhag to another,” she said adding that the local government (LG) Act states that it could come either under gewog or dzongkhag.

Human settlement director, Wangchuk Thayey said that he was aware that a letter was written to the Prime Minister, but denied receiving it.

The LG Act states that Yenlag thromdes should function either under dzongkhag administration or the gewog administration as decided by the government.

Chief election commissioner (CEC) Chogyal Dago Rigdzin said the letter to the government was sent as an advisory and that the commission’s main mandate was to conduct elections. “It’s the government’s prerogative to decide on the issue, we sent the letter just for advice,” he said.

However, he said irrespective of whether yenlag thromdes are under gewog or dzongkhag jurisdiction, yenlag thromde representatives will have to be elected to respective dzongkha tshogdus. “Yenlag Thromdes declared by Parliament shall be the constituency for upcoming LG elections.”

The former chief election commissioner during the declaration of the delimitation order for thromdes in July, said that there was an urgency to take a decision at the earliest as dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromde elections will have to begin soon.

Meanwhile, even if the matter is decided, it is not clear how yenlag thromdes would function either under gewog or dzongkhag. If a yenlag thromde comes under gewog administration, issues of gewog’s capacity to handle the operations, budget allocation, and subsidies among others are foreseen.

According to the election commission, if yenlag thromdes fall under dzongkhag administrations, yenlag thromdes will be like dzongkhag thromde B in the earlier classification of thromdes.

As per the Constitution, there can be more than one yenlag thromde in each dzongkhag but the government decided to propose only a yenlag thromde in each dzongkhag for now.

In dzongkhags where satellite towns besides the yenlag thromdes already exist, the dzongkhag municipal sector is expected to continue to serve these towns and facilitate its growth for it to graduate to yenlag thromdes in due course of time.

Another confusion is that besides budget allocation, a thromde also generates its revenue through urban taxes and others. In case of a yenlag thromde, there is also the question of who manages the flow of resources.

MB Subba

 

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