Written question raised to the Hon’ble Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs
Government position concerning the post of Geydrungs
Raised by Gasa Theumi Sangay Khandu
Source: National Council
The local government office has been using the services of geydrungs for a long time. It started with their writing skills that were critical to local government functionaries at a time when many gups could not read or write. However, as more and more gups were able to read and write (as required by law), the role of geydrungs have now evolved from simply writing for the gup to writing for the public. Our experiences at the villages have shown us that the convenience of having geydrungs at the office allows members of the public to use them for a wide array of services ranging from writing letters, agreements, tax collection, office record keeping.While Parliament has discussed and also tabled both the pay hike proposal and the Local Government Amendment Act (primary revolved around thromde), it left out issues concerning geydrungs. It was then thought that their issue was best taken up during pay revision deliberations (when discussions for local governments arise) and later under the civil service category when the Local Government Amendment Bill was discussed. While members shared concerns on the matter, there was no conclusive debate when discussions took place both times.
On March 7, 2016, a group of them representing other geydrungs had come to
Thimphu to seek clarification and also put up an appeal on their allowances (difficulty, altitude and gratuity) and met the Chairman of the Royal Civil Service Commission. During the meeting, they learnt that the OD exercises had in fact recommended doing away with the post. They then met the Hon’ble Home Minister the next day on March 8, 2016. He had explained that there was nothing he could do if the OD exercises recommended doing away with the geydrung post. But he was kind enough to extend help by way of finding employment opportunities and trainings for them at the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources for those whose contracts would end soon. Six days after the meeting on March 14, 2016, a letter with the reference DLG-02/2015-16/695 was sent out to all 205 gewogs from the Department of Local Governance, signed by the Director General. It intended to seek feedback from the gewog thrizins (gups) on whether the service of the geydrungs was required or not. It has been over 3 months now.
Today, as the contracts of some of these geydrungs come to an end, there are reports of OD exercise by the RCSC concerning them as well as engagement by the Home Ministry with local governments by way of seeking feedback on the need for geydrungs.
In this context, the National Council would like to ask the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs about the kind of feedback provided by the local governments and how it intends to take the issue forward based on the feedback.
Brief background on Gaydrung
Gaydrung post was created along with the creation of the post for Gup in early 1960s. The role of Gaydrungs then had been to assist the Gup in collection of rural taxes besides drafting official correspondences. Gaydrungs then did not have any structured pay as such but their services were compensated with exemptions from Gungda woola and other privileges extended by the Community which were later replaced with minimal financial incentives.
With enactment of the Local Government Act 2009 (which does not mention Gaydrung), the GYT Chathrim was superseded. However, under the Local Government Rules and Regulations 2012, Gaydrung is recruited and appointed under the authority of the Gewog Tshogde. They are appointed for a fixed term of five years, subject to extension by the Gewog Tshogde based on their performance. They are paid a monthly salary of Nu. 9570 and are eligible for daily allowance equivalent to Nu. 300 per day and Nu.250 porter pony allowance as and when they perform authorized official travels. The following responsibilities, to be undertaken under the supervision of the Gewog Administrative Officer, are spelt out in the Local Government Rules and Regulations, 2012:
1. Collect tax and insurance premium;
2. Process land transaction in accordance with the Land Act of Bhutan, 2007;
3. File and maintain records of all official documents; and
4. Perform other official functions as directed by the Gup, Mangmi and Gewog Administrative Officer.
Educational Profile of existing Gaydrungs (Gewog Administrative Assistant)
Shown below is the qualification of the existing 202 Gaydrungs:
1. BA 04 (shedra graduate monks included)
2. Class XII 67
3. Class X 36
4. Class IX 03
5. Class VIII 12
6. Class VII 02
7. Class VI 08
8. Class V 04
9. Class IV 01
10. Class I 01
11. RTI Graduate 01
12. Non Formal Education 02
13. Unknown qualification 61 (monks included)
Total existing Gaydrungs 202
Series of discussions were done on the issue of Gaydrung post (GAO’s symposium, Annual Dzongdag’s Conference, OD exercise, RCSC).
The RCSC in the light of maintaining “small, compact and efficient civil service” and also in line with the recommendation of their OD exercise had recommended the following:
1. The position of Gaydrungs in Gewog Administrations should be phased out when the existing Gaydrung completes their ongoing contract.
2. Their responsibilities should be reassigned to GAOs and the Accounts Assistance to ensure smooth transition.
3. Gaydrung who meet the civil service entry eligibility criteria enshrined in the Chapter 4, 5 and 7 of BCSR 2012 can try and join the civil service through normal channel.
In order to understand the role of Gaydrungs with clarity, the DLG under the MoHCA is conducting study by way of seeking views of the 205 Gewogs regarding the requirement of the Post. Of the feedback received so far, majority of them have expressed their view in favour of retaining the post of Gaydrung with justification as under:
1. Carry out tax collection;
2. As per the responsibilities mentioned in LGRR, 2012;
3. Perform the responsibilities of an Adm. Assistant;
4. There will be poor achievement on the activities carried out by LG;
5. Serving as the Tshogdrung for Gewog Tshogde;
6. More miscellaneous roles for all the 10 ministries and agencies give more roles to the LGs;
7. the post generates employment opportunities;
8. Census record keeping;
9. Chadri and logistic arrangements;
10. Focal person for reporting the Gewog annual report.
Therefore, the discussion on retention and abolition of the gaydrung post is still under way with the 205 gewogs and the RCSC.