Bhutan is heading for some major changes at the top levels of the government on the account of many senior officials finishing their official terms.
The post of the RMA Governor is already vacant since the first week of August 2015, four Ambassadors will soon be back by September and seven government secretaries will finish their term by mid 2016.
The vacancy for ambassadors will be for the coveted posts to Geneva, Brussels, Thailand and Kuwait.
The current batch of ambassadors will be will have to report to the Foreign Ministry by
1st October 2015.
They include the former Foreign Secretary Daw Penjore as Ambassador to the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, former Director General of SAARC Sonam Tshong in Brussels, former Director General of Tourism Kesang Wangdi as Ambassador to Thailand and former Cabinet Secretary Dasho Tashi Phuntsho in Kuwait.
Ambassadors are nominated by the Prime Minister and then appointed by His Majesty the King as per the Constitution. Ambassadors don’t come under the purview of the RCSC and so are treated as direct appointees
of the government.
Geneva is regarded as primarily a multilateral posting as after New York it is Geneva that hosts several United Nations agencies and other international institutions.
Brussels is considered to be the capital of the European Union and the posting there allows the Ambassador to stay in touch with not only EU as a whole but several developmental partners from EU countries.
Thailand is an important posting not only due to the close ties with Thailand but also because it gets the second highest traffic of Bhutanese students, medical patients and visitors after Delhi. Bhutan also has also lot of commercial ties with Thailand and Thailand is becoming an important source of tourists.
Kuwait is an important Middle East partner for Bhutan with close diplomatic links and the Embassy there allows Bhutan to maintain its ties with other middle-east countries.
While Dasho Tashi Phuntsho is due for retirement, the question in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be on where to place three senior Executive level officials returning from their postings.
An official said that the option for the Royal Civil Service Commission is to either place them in the Ministry itself or put them at other equivalent positions in other agencies if there are no adequate posts available. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been top heavy especially in the last few years.
The next available vacancy is that of the Royal Monetary Authority Governor as the current governor Daw Tenzin finished his five year term in early August 2015.
According to the Constitution the Governor will be appointed by His Majesty the King on the nomination of the Prime Minister.
The Governor’s post will be especially important as the RMA regulates Bhutan’s Financial Institutions to not only ensure that banks utilize the money of clients well but also to ensure that the entire financial system is stable.
The RMA through its Monetary Policy powers is an important linchpin of the Bhutanese economy in terms of setting interest rates of loans, mopping of excess liquidity, controlling inflation and the controlling the flow of foreign currency like rupees and dollar serves. RMA also hold’s Bhutan’s dollar and rupee reserves.
With Bhutan just coming out of an unprecedented rupee shortage and credit crunch that slowed down the economy the next RMA Governor will be very important.
By June 2016 seven secretaries will be either completing their five year term or retiring on reaching the age of sixty.
The ones completing their five year terms are Finance Secretary Lam Dorji, Education Secretary Sangay Zam, Information and Communications Secretary Dasho Kinley Dorji, Home Secretary Dasho (Dr) Sonam Tenzin and Ministry of Labour and Human Resources Secretary Pema Wangda.
The two secretaries retiring due to age in 2016 will be the Health Secretary Dorji Wangchuk in June 2016 and the Agriculture Secretary Tenzin Dhendup in July 2016.
In the RCSC Act a secretary to the government is the highest post that a civil servant can achieve and it will be either for a term of 5 years or on reaching the age of 60 whichever being earlier. Therefore, as per the Act secretaries cannot serve more than a one five year term.
According to a RCSC official the process for the selection of new secretaries in mid 2016 will be straightforward as laid out in the Constitution and RCSC Act.
The RCSC will first of all go through a large list of potential candidates and look at their performance, integrity and seniority. For integrity Audit reports and ACC reports would be taken into account. The RCSC will also look at how suitable the candidate is for the vacant secretary posts.
Then the RCSC will submit around three potential names for every one vacancy to the cabinet. This would mean that for the seven posts around 21 names would be submitted. The government would then make its own choices and submit the final list to His Majesty the King for appointment.
The Constitution says that the Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal appoint the Secretaries to the Government on the recommendation of the Prime Minister who shall obtain nominations from the Royal Civil Service Commission on the basis of merit and seniority and in accordance with other relevant rules and regulations.
Of the remaining three secretaries the MoEA Secretary Dasho Yeshi Wangdi has until around 2019, the Foreign Secretary Tshering Dorji has until 2017 and the Works and Human Settlement Secretary Phuntsho Wangdi has until around 2018.
The appointment of the seven secretaries would be of tremendous importance for the seven ministries given that the secretary is the top bureaucrat in the ministry below only the minister and exercises strong administrative, financial and human resource powers.