The bone of contention is the disparity between theirs and those of Thimphu’s town reps
Expressing their disappointment to the thromde, the six-thromde theumis (town representatives) of Phuentsholing yesterday demanded an answer to their request for an increased sitting fee at the sixth Phuentsholing thromde tshogde.
The issue came up when Rinchending theumi Tshering Wangdi, also the tshogde’s chairperson, said that they were promised an increase in their sitting fees from Nu 3,000 to Nu 5,000 but were now told that the cabinet hadn’t approved their request. The theumis had requested for their sitting fees to be at par with Thimphu’s theumis.
“We were almost given surety by the Phuentsholing thrompon that the issue would be solved,” he said. “But we’re now informed that we won’t be getting any revision.”
All theumis said that, when they had a talk with Phuentsholing thrompon Tsheten Dorji in one of their meetings, the mayor asked them to put up the issue to the thromde tshogde, instead of a concerned ministry.
“We were promised an increase in the fees if we put it to the thromde tshogde,” Phuentsholing MoE theumi Karma Chen said. “Had we known the issue would reach nowhere, we’d have raised it to the ministry ourselves.”
Another theumi from Pekarshing, Thirtha Maya, said, the word “follow up” has no value. “Decisions in rural places are faster and stronger than in urban places,” she said.
The theumis said they were saddened by the thrompon’s false promise.
“We were told they’d put up to cabinet for approval, and the thrompon even said that we’d get arrears,” the theumis said.
Tshering Wangdi said they were informed by the thrompon that he submitted the proposal to Thimphu thrompon to be put up to the cabinet.
After arguing for an hour and demanding an explanation from the thromde office, the executive secretary, Tharchen Lhendup, managed to convince the theumis of a special session soon with the mayor on the issue. The half-day tshogde also discussed issues on retention walls.
Phuentsholing thrompon Tsheten Dorji, who was however not present at the tshogde, said over the telephone that there is confusion about the issue.
“I told them I’d put up to the cabinet about the salary increase and not their sitting fees,” he said. “I never promised them their sitting fees would be increased.”
He said that the sitting fees should be dealt by the thromde and, after approval by the thromde tshogde, the proposal is then submitted to the cabinet for final approval as per the local government Act. “That’s why I asked them to make a concrete decision yesterday,” Tsheten Dorji said. “But they mistook my comment.”
Tsheten Dorji said he had informed the theumis that the issue on increase in salary was raised during the first thrompon conference this year by four thromde theumis.
However, Thimphu thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said he has no reason to propose the sitting fee issue of another thromde to the cabinet. “But I’ll put up the salary increase issue to the cabinet next week.”
The theumis also questioned the disparity in sitting fees between Thimphu and rest of the three thromdes.
Thimphu theumis receive a sitting fee of Nu 5,000, while the remaining three thromdes in Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar and Gelephu receive Nu 3,000.
“Then the thrompons should also get different salaries,” the theumis said. “The government should explain on what ground this was decided.”Samdrupjongkhar thrompon, Karma Sherab Thobgyal, said they once received a circular stating that Thimphu, being a big thromde, theumis in Thimphu are eligible for Nu 5,000.
“We’re all considered the same under the local government act and size of the thromde shouldn’t matter,” he said.
Thimphu thrompon said they are only following the government’s order. “They should understand that Thimphu is bigger in terms of size, and so is the responsibility.”
By Yangchen C Rinzin, Phuentsholing