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LG members await clarity on leave entitlement

Tsirang dzongkhag starts maintaining personal file for LG members

More than four months after the local government entitlement rules and regulations came into effect, dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) secretaries are still waiting for clear directives on the implementation of leave entitlement for local government (LG) members.

Tsirang DT secretary, Sonam Phuntsho, said that the local government leaders are like civil servants on temporary appointment and their record needs to be maintained.

He cited section 15 of the Local Government Entitlement Act 2015, which states that members shall be entitled to paid leave such as causal leave, earned leave, maternity leave, paternity leave and medical leave.

He said that to maintain the record, Tsirang dzongkhag administration has begun maintaining a personal file of the LG members.  “Keeping a personal file of LG members is a new system initiated here.”

DT secretary, who maintains the personal file in consultation with the dzongdag, began the new system recently.

Sonam Phuntsho said that it was one of the agendas discussed and endorsed at the 2nd DT. “Now the authority of sanctioning leave of LG members is also transferred to DT chairman from the dzongdag.”

He, however, said that there is no clear directive from the Department of Local Governance (DLG) and the home ministry on leave entitlement. “We do not know how many days LG members are entitled to leave. There is also no clarity that LG members be granted leave like civil servants.”

Although LG members have not availed casual leave for more than 10 days to date, the DT secretary said he isn’t aware about the ceiling. “Without a clear directive on the number of days they are entitled to, it is feared that there will be an impact in making financial calculations at the end of their term and could impact annual increment as well.”

According to the recent circular on their pay revision, they are entitled to LTC and leave encashment for which calculating the number of days on leave is important.

“To provide LG members with all the financial incentives and other training opportunities at the end of their tenure, there was a need for a record or basis, which the personal file will cater to,” Sonam Phuntsho said.

Meanwhile, local leaders are of the view that transfer of power of authority is an indication that local government is being empowered. It is also a move towards decentralization of authority.

Tsirang DT’s deputy chairman, Beda Moni Chamlagai, said that according to the LG Amendment Act, the authority of granting leave to LG members is handed over to the DT chairman from the dzongdag. This move, he said, empowers LG leaders with additional responsibility.

He said that it was one of the important decisions DT took in endorsing the maintenance of personal files of LG members. “It is a process of systematising the functioning of local government members and their records.”

He said that the system of attendance was not taken seriously in the past and the process of availing leave did not exist.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang

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