Dzongdas’ Conference sees PM announcing greater decentralization of resources and authority to Local Govts in draft 12th plan

Various Dzongkhag level issues were also raised

The 24th Annual Dzongdags’ Conference has wrapped up successfully on 13th June. The closing ceremony was graced by the National Assembly Speaker, Jigme Zangpo.

The conference was informed that 95 percent of the decisions from the 23rd Annual Dzongdags’ Conference are achieved. The remaining 5 percent are work in progress. The three- day conference saw presentations made by MoHCA, TCB, RAA, NCWC, MoWHS, MoF, MoIC, RCSC, ACC, RICB and MoH.

Agendas outlined by dzongkhags were discussed during the conference. Suiting its own needs, some dzongkhags formed bilateral ties with the relevant agencies to discuss agendas.

The highlight of the conference was the Prime Minister who shared his views on the need to further strengthen local governments by decentralizing even more power and authority from the center to the dzongkhags and gewogs.

Lyonchhen requested the Dzongdas to consider strategies to prepare for and make full use of the greater decentralization that is being incorporated in the draft 12th Five Year Plan.

“During the 11FYP, we have expanded decentralization, although Dzongdags and local government leaders had to bear additional responsibilities, the achievements are more than what we have anticipated,” Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister said, at the inaugural of the 24th Dzongdag’s conference being held in Thimphu today.

Dasho thanked the Dzongdags for their leadership.

“During the planning process we consult people, but there is no practice of reporting the progress back to the people,” Dasho said. Sharing progress made during the 11th Five Year Plan has been one of the main agenda for Dasho’s visit to different Dzongkhags in last couple of weeks.

In the 11FYP, in order to strengthen decentralization, the Government introduced Gewog Development Grant (GDG) in 2013 and Dzongkhag Development Grant (DDG) in 2016. Each Gewogs were provided with Nu. 2 mn as GDG and the 20 Dzongkhangs were provided Nu. 7 million each as DDG. In addition to these, the Government also granted Human Resource Development Grant of Nu. 5 mn to every Dzongkhag.

Dasho also shared that in the draft 12 FYP, the government has proposed numerous measures to further strengthen decentralization. Dasho said, “It is our responsibility to draft the 12th FYP and look for fund so that the government of the day can implement it immediately.”

The theme for this year’s Dzongdag’s conference is Role of Dzongdag in Local Governance and Decentralisation.

An interactive session on the drafting of decentralization policy and issues pertaining to culture was held among the Dzongdas and MoHCA on the first day. It was followed by a session with TCB to discuss tourism development and promotion in the dzongkhags.

The second day was filled with a session with RAA where they presented about Dolham and admissibility of porter and pony claims and mismatch of engineers and allocations of sites.

The Dzongdags also had a session with NCWC on the need for sensitization of laws on women and children. Another session saw discussions on workload of engineers assigned in the dzongkhags  and local area plan (LAP) with MoWHS.

Chukha Dzongda spoke on the need of PAVA rate application for a specific town in Gedu. Likewise, Punakha Dzongda presented two issues faced in Punakha; construction on government land and confusion in the implementation of LAP.

A session with MoF saw discussion on the Dzongkhags’ role in E-Government Procurement. Issues on inadequate vehicle maintenance budget were raised by the Chukha and Lhuentse Dzongdas.

The issue of in-country travel budget for internal auditors, a separate budget head for BHU-I and PSL related activities, the rigidity in implementing DDG/GSDG guideline, issues on restoration budget for disaster and a separate budget allocation for Yenlag Thromde were raised by Chukha.

Similarly, issues on annual budget meeting and on pay revision of ESP/ GSP was raised by the Punakha Dzongda. A need for a budget for sensitization programs on ethics and integrity was raised by the Trashigang Dzongda.

The last session of the second day was held with MoIC, whereby flagship programs on government network were presented by DITT, while RSTA presented on public transport connectivity to gewogs, approval for procurement of taxis in dzongkhags, construction of bus terminals and safety signboards on blind spots and highways.

During the final day of the conference, the Dzongdas had a session with RCSC. A presentation on the Parent Agency Framework as per BCSR 2018 was made along with an update on GoI PTA project ‘Professionalizing the Civil Servant’.

Apart from that, issues were raised from different dzongkhags among which, Dagana, Samdrupjongkhar, Gasa and Trashigang Dzongdas raised the issue of replacement of staff who are sent on transfer.

Similarly, Bumthang Dzongda raised an issue on the elevation of a Dzongrab’s position level and recruitment of diploma graduates as store keepers. Punakha and Bumthang Dzongdas voiced on the need for a re-look into the staffing pattern in the dzongkhags.

The need of additional staff for the Dzongkhag Environment Office was raised by the Trashigang Dzongda, and the issue on the appointment of dzongkhag disaster management officer was raised by the Wangdue Dzongda.

Additional doctor requirement in hospitals in Chukha and Lhuentse was highlighted during the conference. Gasa Dzongda stressed on the need for support from central agencies.

ACC made a presentation on systems of integrity, transparency and accountability during the conference. Rural life insurance and rural house insurance was presented by RICB whereby Wangdue Dzongda raised an issue of collection of insurance premium through G2C.

The last session they had was with MoH, whereby the ministry made a presentation on priority public health issues. During the session, Bumthang Dzongda raised three issues, a need of an ICT and an Administrative Officer in the hospital, out-sourcing of ambulance services and the utilization of hospital cabin charges.

Likewise, the need of an additional ambulance in Lhuentse and a utility van for BHU-I in Chukha was raised by the respective Dzongdas.

Gasa Dzongda, Dorji Dhradhul, said that the conference is important as it brings together all the Dzongdags once in a year. He said it is a platform to learn and share information.

He said, “This is also a platform where we can come closer to central agencies and discuss on various issues, some in general and some bilaterally.”

The theme this year is very obvious, he said, as Bhutan is pursuing a decentralization policy since 1981. He said Dzongdas play an important role being the chief executive officer of the dzongkhag.

“We are in constant touch with the people and decentralization policy is basically, engaging and involving people, therefore, if we play a role without fail then we can strengthen the decentralization policy,” he added.

He said that he had submitted 4 agendas to be included in the conference, however, only one was accepted. “They have also collected agendas from all the 20 Dzongkahgs, whereby the entire relevant people sat together, scrutinized and suggested to discuss bilaterally with the respective agencies,” he added.

As for his overall impression on the conference, he said, “This year they have done very thoroughly, and thereby, the agenda this year was very less, and it was conducted much better this year.”

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