Talk about towns

Thimphu Thromde

Thimphu Thromde

Yesterday, the government proposed a motion in the National Assembly to endorse a list of thromdes (urban settlements). Thromdes, along with gewogs and dzongkhags, form our local governments. But the Local Government Bill, which describes different types of thromdes, has not yet fully completed its passage in Parliament as required by Article 13 of the constitution.

The bill was endorsed during a special joint sitting of the Parliament two months ago, and was submitted to His Majesty the King for His Assent. Till Royal Assent is granted, the LG Bill will remain just that – a bill. And that Assent is not automatic. Article 13 Section 10 of the Constitution states that: “Where the Druk Gyalpo does not grant Assent to the Bill, He shall return the Bill with amendments or objections to deliberate and vote on the Bill I a joint sitting.”

So a few of us suggested that it may not be correct to discuss the proposed list of thromdes until the LG Bill has been fully enacted. That could amount to taking His Majesty’s Assent for granted.

But the government’s proposed list of thromdes has other problems as well. First and foremost, the Dzongkhag thromdes are categorized as Class A or Class B. According to the LG Bill Cass A thromdes will each have a thromde tshogde (a town committee), which will comprise of elected representatives including an elected Thrompon. And, Class B thromdes will not have tshogdes. This distinction between the Dzongkhag thromdes may, in effect, violate the Constitution, which requires that “A Dzongkhag Thromde shall be divided into constituencies for the election of the members of the Thromde Tshogde”, and that “A Thromde Tshogde shall be heaTalk ded by a Thrompon, who is directly elected by the voters of the Dzongkhag Thromde”.

Many MPs have argued that most Dzongkhag thromdes (Gasa has been repeatedly used as an example) are too small to currently warrant a tshogde, and that such thromdes will be upgraded to Class A thromdes as and when the population in these thromdes increase to acceptable levels. I see it quite differently: give tshodges to the smaller Dzongkhag thromdes, and you empower them to attract businesses and people to their respective constituencies. Otherwise, the smaller Dzongkhag thromdes will never grow to levels that will allow them to be categorized as Class A.

The proposed list of Yenlag thromdes (satellite townships) also was not complete. Only eight thromdes were proposed in this category, and a few belonged to one dzongkhag. The Constitution, however, implies that each Dzongkhag will have at least one Yenlag Thromde.

In the end, the National Assembly resolved not to discuss the list of thromdes till Royal Assent is granted for the Local Government Bill.

 

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