Five civil servants who are all looked at as potentially strong candidates for the three political parties of Bhutan KuenNgyam Party, Druk Nyamprup Tshogpa and Peoples Democratic Party have to either pay up hefty training bond fees or not resign at all.
The civil servants who have been told this by their respective ministries or the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) are appealing to the RCSC but so far the commission is clear that it will go by the Bhutan Civil Service Rules.
However, the most serious case among all of them is the DNT candidate for Sipsu, Nima Tshering who due to a mistake of the Human Resources Division of the Education Ministry now faces the prospect of not only being barred from politics but also not getting back his old job. To make matters worse the DNT candidate will have to pay the government Nu 1.3 mn.
In 2004 Nima Tshering who until recently was a Position 2 level curriculum officer had done a 3.5 years Monbosho Masters scholarship in Japan. When he put up his resignation to join politics the Education Ministry approved it on 1st February 2013 and he subsequently received all his benefits, no objection certificate and audit clearance.
He then joined the DNT and was even a registered candidate with the ECB, and his name and profile was released to the media recently.
However, what had been overlooked by the Education Ministry was uncovered by the RCSC as part of its due diligence.
RCSC Commissioner Sangay Dorji said, “We came to know of the issue when the Ministry sent us a copy of the reliving order and before putting it to the commission we did our research and found that he still has two years and eight months to serve.”
The RCSC subsequently informed the Ministry who informed Nima on 12th March 2013.
However, unlike the other potential candidate who can opt to remain with the civil service if their resignation is not accepted Nima cannot rejoin the civil service for three years.
The RCSC Commissioner explained that legally Nima Tshering had resigned from the service, collected his benefits and joined a political party as a candidate. He said as per BCSR rules even if Nima opted out of the party he would not be eligible to join the service for another three years as a cooling off period for a politician. Also Nima has to mandatorily pay the Nu 1.3 mn.
The Commissioner said that it was primarily the failure on part of the Human Resources Division of the Education Ministry which had not gone through the records properly.
A RCSC official also said that Nima could have also himself pointed out the calculation mistake to the MoE to avoid the current situation.
A potential DNT candidate from South Thimphu, who is also stuck, is Dr. Lotay Tshering a medical specialist with the JDWNRH hospital in Thimphu.
According to Dr Lotay he is still appealing with the RCSC and hopes that his case will be solved especially after the RCSC dropped his initial bond period from around 15 years to 4.4 years.
However, the RCSC has made it clear that the doctor can only join politics on paying Nu 6.69 million mainly on account for his 18 months specialist urology training where he was trained for 12 months in USA and 6 months in Singapore.
Commissioner Sangay Dorji explained that Dr Lotay’s 15 year period was dropped to 4.4 years after the Commission took a decision recently to count only the exact time period served for pre service training and not double it.
PDP has also two of its potential candidates unable to clear similar training obligations one of whom also announced himself as a candidate in the media.
In the first case Senior Statistical officer with the Ministry of Labour, Karma Lhendup, according to the RCSC, still has two years and three months to serve. That or he could pay Nu 2.96 million on account of his BSc in statistics program on Monbosho scholarship in Japan.
Another potential PDP candidate Dr Lobzang Dorji who is a Senior Medical Officer with the Gelephu hospital is also unable to resign due to training obligations.
He has the option of serving nine more months for his Masters in Public Health or paying up Nu 1.8 mn to the government.
The final candidate who is also caught in the same problem is the BKP’s potential candidate, Karma Thinley who is a Deputy Chief Programme officer in the Tertiary Education Division under MoE.
In a relatively short period Karma Thinley availed several long term trainings which included a 10 month training in Japan and a Humphrey Scholarship in USA according to the RCSC. He has the option of either serving one ear eight months or paying Nu 3.6 mn.
Sangay Dorji made it clear that the RCSC would be going strictly by the rules in the on trainings and its obligations.
Till date 30 civil servants have resigned to joining politics of which 25 cases have been accepted.
The maximum number of civil servants resigning has been from the Ministry of Education followed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests which in themselves are two large ministries.
(Clarification: This article has been edited online in two places to correct the name of the Commissioner as Sangay Dorji)