One of the biggest problems of the last LG elections was many vacant dhemkhongs as the local government benefits were not attractive enough to attract good candidates.
Apart from this issue the Local Government Entitlements Bill introduced by the Home Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji yesterday aims to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services, prevent corruption and provide financial security.
Currently Gups and Mangmis can only avail annual leave encashment of Nu 6,000 and Nu 4,000 respectively and there are no other benefits or arrangements put in place when they leave service. They are also not entitled to TA/DSA if they undertake tours within their own gewogs which has financial implications on local leaders.
The Bill ensures that local government officials like Gup, Mangmi, Gaydrung shall be entitled to allowances and benefits such as leave encashment, retirement benefits and other entitlements by law.
The shall also be entitled to casual leave, earned leave, maternity leave, paternity leave and medical leave as determined by the government.
The Gewog administration shall be entitled to an annual entertainment fund as determined by the government.
A local government member will be entitled to DSA and sitting fees for the local government session.
The Gup will be entitled to a voucher phone allowance to an amount approved by the government.
The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Dzongkhag Tshogdu shall be entitled to a special responsibility allowance at a rate approved by the government on the recommendation of the Pay Commission.
A deduction shall be made from the salary of a member and Gyadrung for unauthorized leave of absence, to an amount equivalent to the normal rate of pay.
A local government member upon completion of his/her term will be entitled to gratuity, provident fund and any other retirement benefits.
The government shall operate a gratuity scheme for the benefit of all local government members and Gaydrungs.
The rate of the pay and benefits of local government officials will all be fixed by the Pay Commission.
The Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs in consultation with the Ministry of Finance may, from time to time, frame rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.
The Minister said that the Bill was formulated considering the importance of the institution of local government as enshrined in the Constitution. He said that the Bill was drafted after holding consultations with the local governments and extensively deliberating in the Cabinet.
The Minister also said that present entitlements of the local government leaders were not reasonable and hence the Pay Commission was also directed to study the possibility of revising their entitlements.
The Bill has been directed to the Good Governance Committee for review and will be deliberated in the 3rd session of the Parliament.