Seven of the 14 gewogs in the central district of Dagana are without a gewog administrative officer (GAO) of which four gewogs have been without one since last year.
The post of GAOs, filled by university graduates, were created in the 10th Plan to strengthen capacity of the local government to handle greater financial and decision making autonomy from increased decentralization at the local level.
The seven gewogs without a GAO are Goshi, Tsendagang, Lagyab, Khabisa, Lhamoizingkha, Tashiding and Tsangkha.
The issue was discussed at the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (district assembly) last year but more gewogs without GAOs increased this year with the GAOs of Tsendagang, Goshi and Khebisa on study leave, the GAOs of Tashiding, Lagyarb and Lhamozingkha transferred and the Tsangkha GAO on long term leave.
“With the completion of the recent LG election and new gups appointed in some gewogs, the presence of GAO is highly needed in working together for the gewog development activities,” said the Dzongkhag Planning Officer, Sonam Pelzom. “But we are yet to get the replacements. It seriously needs to be prioritised.”
Goshi gewog’s new Gup, Tandin, said there should be an immediate replacement to ease the burden of the newly appointed gewog officials. “The GAO’s are highly qualified than us, so it would be easier in doing paper work and discussing gewog issues,” he said.
In the absence of Gup and GAO in the gewogs, it is the gewog agriculture and livestock department officials that have stepped in to administer the gewog.
Jigme Lhendrup, the gewog livestock department officer, who managed the gewog administration for three months before and during the election process said, “It has been really challenging to administer the gewog singlehandedly without any experience and having to do double job at the same time”.
The Karna gewog Gup, Lhawang Dorji, pointed out, that some gups are not well literate and this makes a huge impact in officiating tasks like processing the budget and activities where most of the official letters and reports are in English. “So there is a landslide difference in having and not having GAO,” he said. “We raised the issue of the GAO since last year, but instead the number has increased this year.”
Tsendagang Gewog Gup Bal Badhur Rana said, “We feel the need to instantly fill the vacant GAO officers”.