With three political parties not making it to the general round a total of 141 qualified candidates will be there in the job market. This number will go up to 181 once the final results come in 9, January 2024.
At a time when the country is facing a shortage of human resources there are questions on how these people are wasted as far as the government is concerned due to the cooling off period. This is also in the context of the Civil Service Reforms allowing the RCSC to hire in people at various levels into the civil service.
In a recent response, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) shed light on the critical role of the cooling-off period for political leaders transitioning to civil service roles in Bhutan, as mandated by the Constitution to maintain an apolitical civil service. RCSC emphasized the importance of upholding neutrality, impartiality, and independence among civil servants, especially those in senior positions.
The Bhutan Civil Service Rules of 2018 outlines a one-year “cooling-off period,” as specified in section 188.8.131.52. This period serves as a safeguard to ensure the neutrality of the civil service, prevent potential conflicts of interest, and uphold the integrity, impartiality, and independence of the civil service.
According to RCSC, civil servants play a crucial role as the “Permanent Government,” providing institutional memory, and independent and professional perspectives in policy and program development. The cooling-off period is a strategic measure to protect civil servants from politically motivated retribution and to maintain an environment where they can carry out their duties without bias.
One of the officials from the RCSC said, “The RCSC monitors the civil service closely in collaboration with senior management, ensuring that the apolitical nature of the Civil Service is preserved.” They engage with executives through annual coordination meetings and other forums, fostering a common understanding of how the civil service’s independence can be balanced with the need for political responsiveness and public accountability.
The objective of the cooling-off period is not only to address potential conflicts of interest but also to contribute to good governance by promoting transparency and accountability. By implementing this period, RCSC aims to create a civil service that embodies the highest standards of integrity, thus safeguarding the long-term interests of the country.
Addressing concerns about the perception of favoritism or political influence in civil service appointments, RCSC assured that mechanisms are in place to hold individuals accountable if they violate the cooling-off period rules. This commitment highlights their dedication to maintaining a fair and transparent process.
Looking forward, RCSC remains adaptable to changing political and governance landscapes. While emphasizing the effectiveness of the cooling-off period, the Commission continues to evaluate its policies and engage in discourse to ensure a harmonious interface between the political and administrative fields.
RCSC’s response highlights the pivotal role of the cooling-off period in preserving the apolitical nature of the civil service, contributing to good governance, and ensuring the continued trust of the public in the integrity of Bhutan’s administrative apparatus.