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Not our job to provide jobs

… although the dzongdas said it was a concern they also shared

 Dzongda conference: Cabinet ministers called on dzongdags to be more innovative and progressive in dealing with unemployment problems in the dzongkhags at their 20th annual conference in Thimphu yesterday.

“What the local governments are doing is detached from the biggest concern of the nation – employment,” labour minister Dorji Wangdi said. “There is no doubt that employment is the government’s biggest challenge and the dzongkhags are not involved at all.”

He said unemployment could not be addressed alone by the central government, which has been implementing the program until now and that dzongkhags need to involve youth in the economic activities that are being undertaken in the dzongkhags.

Minster for works and human settlements Yeshey Zimba said despite many policies and strategies in place at the ministry level, not much has been achieved.  “If agencies in the ministries and local governments worked together, employment would not be a problem,” he said.

He said the dzongkhags could employ youth while carrying out developmental activities in the five-year plans.  Investment in employment in the country is one of the highest in the world, he said.

Dzongdags, however, said addressing unemployment was not their responsibility.

Thromde, LG Acts should go along

Thromdes (municipalities) should be clubbed under the Department of Local Governance (DLG) for better coordination and implementation of development works, dzongdags and local government officials said at the annual dzongdag conference that ended yesterday in Thimphu.

Samdrupjongkhar dzongda Phub Tshering said there were few problems initially.  “Those problems are resolved now,” he said, adding that there could be problems in future between the two authorities because of conflicting clauses in the Local Government Act and the Thromde Act.

The Local Government Act states the dzongkhag and the Thromde as one entity, he said.

DLG director Dorji Norbu said despite the thromde being a part of the local government, it is not under the department.

“For now, only dzongkhags and gewogs are under the DLG and the Thromdes are under the works and human settlement ministry, which has resulted in some problems,” he said.

The director requested for an executive order from the government to merge the two as a single entity. He also supported the proposal to invite thrompons to attend the annual dzongdag conference.

Thimphu dzongdag Lhab Dorji said the thromde never consulted the dzongkhag tshogdu on formulating or implementing any of its plans.

Prime minister Jigmi Y Thinley asked the DLG to review the two acts, specify the changes required and submit the recommendations to the new government.

“We are very concerned about unemployment issue in the dzongkhag but we are not mandated to provide employment to the youth,” Thimphu dzongda Lhab Dorji said.

He said there was “simply no avenue” for them to act on the issue. “We are bound by financial, procurement and other rules, which do not allow us to implement any activity besides those year-marked and budgeted ones,” he said.

He submitted that the cabinet could create a system mandating dzongkhags to provide employment opportunities to young people.

“If there isn’t a budget head for an activity, then it is impossible to re-appropriate budget for it no matter how important the work may be,” one of the dzongdags said.

Prime minister Jigmi Y Thiney said the government had learnt from the people that the dzongdags only do whatever is in the plan and are not willing to execute anything outside it.

He said Pemagatshel dzongdag has implemented works that were not in the 10th five-year plan. “If it is for the benefit of the people and the society at large, then the government or ministry would support you,” Lyonchhoen said. Dzongdas were also told to ensure peace and stability before and during the elections.

By Tshering Palden

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