Pandemic impacts the conduct of orientation for elected LG leaders

The conduct of the orientation program for the elected Local Government (LG) Leaders (Gups, Mangmis and Tshogpas) is impacted by the pandemic, whereby the newly elected leaders (who are not incumbent candidates), in particular, are facing issues in handling their roles as they do not know their exact roles and responsibilities.

The orientation program is happening in green districts, whereas the program in red districts is yet to be carried out.

37 percent of the total elected Gups are incumbent while the rest, more than 50 percent, are newly elected Gups. In addition, 12 percent of the total elects are women of which 2 percent are women Gups.

The Director of Department of Local Governance (DLG), Kado Zangpo, said that before the orientation was organized by DLG, but now, with the pandemic and with the localization, respective dzongkhags will conduct the orientation.

He said, “Conducting the orientation at the dzongkhags-level will have more advantage, as it will have different context, and they can absorb in all the local leaders which includes Tshogpas and Mangmis. Before, it used to be just Gups, the number would be very huge if they take in Tsohgpa and Mangmi.”

The respective dzongkhags have submitted their course content for the orientation, which the department has reviewed and approved, he said, adding that the respective officers in the dzongkhags will deliver the content to the participants.

For now, he said that some of the dzongkhags, which are identified as green districts, are conducting the orientation, while some are done with the orientation program already. The red dzongkhags are yet to conduct the orientation. However, the department will review once all the dzongkhags are done with the orientation.

He said, “The participants will be familiarized on financial matters, procurement, civil service rules and regulation, various relevant acts, civil registrations and land matters. These are some of the common contents. They will also be familiarized on integrity and accountability on corruption.”

Given the involvements of LG leaders in the corruption practices, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is taking the initiative to advocate LG leaders on corruption.

Tenzin Phuntsho, Chief of Education Division under ACC, said that initially they had a comprehensive planning with RIM to have sessions conducted with all 205 LG leaders on corruption practice. However, it seems it would be difficult for it to happen given the pandemic situation in the country.

Nevertheless, he said, “We have conducted one session with 59 participants virtually. We are in contact with DLG, and in the month of May, we have planned to conduct one session in the east at Sherubtse College which is expected to have more than 30 participants.”

He further said that their regional offices are soon going to start with an aim to cater services to all the 205 gewogs.  

Meanwhile, the newly elected Gasetshogom Gup Chado expressed the need of having orientation because they are having difficulties in responding to the people’s needs, as they are new to the post with no past experience.

He said, “I am new to the post and when people come with a complaint, I get stuck as I do not know the actual role to play, and this is why I feel the need of the orientation at the earlier. However, for now, we are communicating through social media group comprising government officials. That is only the way I can respond to the complaints received.”

He added that he is not happy as he does not have the ability to help as developmental works could not be carried out in the gewog due to the pandemic, and many have come forward sharing their concerns, but they are handicapped for now.

Seeking help from the officials through the social media is only the way he could find to address the issue, he said, adding that for now they are focusing more on tackling the pandemic as with widespread of virus in Wangduephodrang.

Ramjar Gup Phurpa Gyeltshen said that having to take up the responsibility without any past experience, in itself, is a challenge, and therefore, the orientation program is felt as necessary. “Without the orientation, it would be hard on us to respond to anything. Orientation is under way in Trashiyangtse, and in two day’s time, I was able to learn a lot, and especially on the budget in particular,” he added.

The orientation will help us in responding to the people’s needs, and to take up the developmental activities, he added.

However, “It is challenging for us to act immediately on anything related to COVID-19 situation,” he said.

Likewise, Gups around the country have shared their concerns over the importance of having orientation conducted at the earliest time possible, so they can gain knowledge and insights into their roles and responsibilities.

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