Is reduction in the number of gewogs good? Looking from the perceptive of administrative efficiency the fewer the number of gewogs we have the better.
When decentralisation process began in the early 1980s Bhutanese communities were far apart from each other, separated by difficult terrain. That was perhaps the reason why we had to settle with 205 gewogs. Today, increased road connectivity has brought our communities closer; we could do much better with fewer gewogs than we have. Efficient use of resources and effective administrative control of regions beg priority in the larger scheme of evolution that the nation is going through.
A compact administrative structure with special focus on efficient delivery of services is the kind of reconfiguration that is becoming increasingly necessary today.
The taskforce that was constituted to study the possibility of paring down the number of gewogs to a reasonable number has found that about 54 gewogs in 16 dzongkhags could be considered for apposite and necessary merger.
What could happen as a result, if the recommendations of the taskforce are implemented, is that the existing gewog and dzongkhag boundaries may change on foot of which electoral constituencies could shift. However, that should not be an intractable problem for any one organisation or for the nation. It is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Bhutan to carry out suitable and effective delimitation exercise. Likewise, the dzongkhag administrations will have to work on including new changes to their administrative jurisdictions.
However, any such change to the regional or nation boundary cannot happen without the endorsement of the Parliament. But then, the Parliament has by far greater responsibility to effect change in a way that makes management of smaller units of administration more efficient. No doubt the debates that will ensue once the recommendations of the taskforce are laid on the table of our honourable MPs in the upcoming session will see people’s representatives divided on the issue. What is important though is that we must consider the interest of the nation first.
Reconfiguration of gewogs must be done for effective management of smaller administrative units. Strengthening local governments will remain a fumbling attempt otherwise.