Civil Service Reform Bill 2022 proposes major restructuring

Bill recommends a reduction of ministry to nine from the current ten and clustering together of agencies that have similar functions

If the civil service reform bill 2022, gets its way through the parliament, the country will have one ministry less than what currently exists. Moreover, people will need to get acquainted with the names, for the reform bill proposes changes in the names of ministries.

The nine ministries would be the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment, and Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

As per the bill, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA) will become the Ministry of Home Affairs. It states that with the new reorganization of the Ministry, the department of Culture and the Dzongkha Development Commission shall merge and function as the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development and the Secretariat to the National Commission for Culture and Dzongkha Development.

Similarly, under the new Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of Disaster Management and the Department of Local Governance shall merge and function as the Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management.

Bringing the Ministries of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) and Economic Affairs (MoEA) together, the bill proposes the establishment of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

“The National Environment Commission Secretariat in the existing laws shall be construed as the Department of Environment and Climate Change and function as the Secretariat to the National Environment Commission,” the draft bill states, while adding that the Department of Water “shall implement mandates of the National Environment Commission Secretariat specified in the Water Act and any other functions related to water resources specified in other laws.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment shall perform such functions in the existing law relating to media. The bill says that the Office of Consumer Protection in the existing laws shall be construed as the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority while the Film Commission and Media Council “shall merge with the Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Authority and function as the Bhutan Information Communications and Media Authority.”

According to the bill, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport will comprise the Road Safety and Transport Authority and the Department of Roads, which will be merged and become the Department of Surface Transport to carry out the development functions related to surface transport.

“The regulatory functions under the existing laws for the Department of Roads, Road Safety and Transport Authority, and Construction Development Board shall merge and function as the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority,” the bill reads.

Similarly, the Ministry of Education and Skills Developmentshall include the Secretariat to the National Commission for Women and Children.

Under the Ministry of Health will be the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority and Drug Regulatory Authority, which shall merge and function as the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority.

“The regulatory functions under pesticides, seeds and livestock laws shall be carried out by the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority,” the bill says.

Additionally, the bill proposes changes, such as bring the Department of Tourism, Bhutan Standard Bureau and company registry under the new Ministry of Industry, commerce and employment.

Meanwhile, with the reorganization in Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the regulatory functions under the existing laws for the DoR, RSTA and Construction Development Board (CDB) shall merge and function as the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority.

Another proposed change is the division of the Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat, which will now include the Planning and Policy and the External Resources wings. The proposal of the bill is to cluster the former under the Cabinet Secretariat while External Resource Mobilization will be clustered under Ministry of Finance.

The bill states that the Ministries as the foundation of governance shall provide the strategic direction, formulate policies, propose legislations and adopt rules or regulations of all departments, agencies, and authorities under the Ministry.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu