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Lack of a proper mechanism for management of human resource between local governments (LGs) and its administrations have been an obstacle to the effective functioning of LGs, a study has found.

DLG drafts a decentralisation policy to outline roles and responsibilities for LGs

MB Subba

Lack of a proper mechanism for management of human resource between local governments (LGs) and its administrations have been an obstacle to the effective functioning of LGs, a study has found.

Published by the Department of Local Governance (DLG) recently, the assessment study on dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) and gewog tshogde (GT) states that civil servants in LG administrations are functionally associated with DT and GT.

However, the civil servants are directly under the control of the dzongdag. “Accordingly they report to the dzongdag and respective agencies at the central level and not to the local government.”

A gup told Kuensel that LGs depend on the sector heads for deployment of civil servants, including engineers.

He said the gups are being given more power in terms of management of human resource within the gewog. “The absence of accountability mechanism at the LG level has also rendered LGs ineffective.”

The impeding factors are aggravated by the lack of capacity and facilitation skills of DT and GT members to pro-actively liaise with sectors that provide technical support and vice versa.

The study also found that the absence of a clear working modality between LGs, its administrations and other regional offices and no clear accountability among stakeholders also impede the functioning of LGs.

LGs do not possess a legal tooth to take actions for non-compliance notices and directives of DT and GT. It was reported that sectors and regional offices do not heed to the notices and directives of the DT and GT.

The study found that most of both elected and non-elected staff at the local level are unable to comprehend provisions of legal and regulatory tools such as the Constitution, LG Act and the assignment of functional and financial responsibilities.

When the elected LG functionaries change, they do not necessarily get sensitised or trained on time, especially on their functional roles in local governance as representatives of the people, it was found. 

The study also calls for a comprehensive decentralisation policy. “The functional working relation between LGs and LG administration and effective functioning of DTs and GTs are impeded by a lack of a clear decentralisation policy framework.”

According to the study, in the absence of a clear decentralisation policy and framework, decentralised local governance is understood differently by different people at different levels. 

The non-elected LG functionaries understand the roles and functions of LGs and LG administration from the context of territorial decentralisation and deconcentration, in which administrative power and authorities are transferred to the local level merely to take the functions closer to the people.

The mode of implementing the decentralisation process is still not clearly and fully devolved as envisioned in the Constitution, according to the study. 

“There is a need to develop a national decentralisation policy that will guide the future direction of decentralisation and provide clarity,” it states.

Meanwhile, the DLG has drafted a decentralisation policy, which outlines the  roles and responsibilities for LGs.

The policy aims to facilitate gradual devolution of power, functions, and authority from the central government to LGs. According to the draft policy, the central government will perform only those functions that cannot be undertaken effectively at the LG level.

LG can set their own priorities. However, the draft policy allows the central government to intervene in cases where national priorities are more important than LG priorities.

“The central government shall not undermine or surpass LGs, except in cases where national priorities should take precedence over local government priorities. Dzongkhag administrations shall not undermine or surpass the thromde and gewog administrations,” it states.

Accountability of LGs has been given due consideration. LGs are required to be accountable not only to the central government but also to citizens equally, according to the policy.

The policy requires the central government to ensure that there is matching human resources capacity at the LG level to manage the devolved functions.

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