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Gaydrungs in dilemma after their plea for extension gets rejected

An executive order was issued on April 6 to discontinue with the post of Gaydrung

After an executive order was issued from the Prime Minister Office (PMO) on April 6 to discontinue with the post of Gaydrung (gewog clerk) permanently from the local government, many Gaydrungs are unhappy and expressed discontent with the government’s decision.

Following the executive order, the Gaydrungs appealed to the Prime Minister and the home ministry on the evening of April 10.

One of the representatives of the Gaydrungs said, “Our main appeal and request to the PM and the home minister was to extend our duration to two to three years or a maximum of five years from now as many of us will be out of employment at the same time.”

He added that if they are granted an extension, they will have more time to repay the loans that they availed during their service.

The government, on the other hand, has not responded positively to the request for an extension and has remained firm in doing away with the post of Gaydrung, according to the Gaydrungs.

Following the denial of the government’s request to maintain the Gaydrungs on a consolidated contract within the civil service by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), the PMO’s executive order was issued on April 6.

Meanwhile, the Gaydrungs’ representative said that they were aware of the situation because they had been on contract since 2019.

“But they did not take action sooner because they believed the Department of Local Governance (DLG) was investigating the situation,” he said, adding that the DLG was supportive of them and had previously made an appeal to the government on their behalf.

“But it was denied; so we decided to make our own plea. However, since the day we received an executive order, everything has been futile and our hope has been dashed,” he added.

Meanwhile, the executive order from the PMO stated that the decision of abolishment of the post of Gaydrung was taken in the larger scheme of governance to keep pace with new developments. 

The goal, according to the executive order, is to improve public service delivery by emphasizing professionalism, leadership and innovation in the local government.

The Gaydrungs were given a three-year contract in 2019, which expired on April 2 this year. 

However, one of the Gaydrungs said that it is a big loss and demoralizing for them to be ordered to walk away without anything after serving for so many years. 

Gaydrungs are, meanwhile, not entitled to any retirement benefits, such as gratuity, provident fund and LTC as their appointment is not governed by the RCSC’s rules.

“Therefore, after the PM rejected our plea for extension, we requested the PM to at least give us benefits similar to those who get retirement benefits,” said another Gaydrung.  

According to him, the PM said that Lyonchhen will look into the matter and similarly consult with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) about the possibility and inform them.

Gaydrungs have been in the system since the 1960s. They help service seekers especially rural people to fill up forms and draft letters, besides carrying out regular works like collection of taxes and insurance.

While expressing the concern of the Gaydrungs being unemployed after the removal of the post, the PM suggested to them about the various means to do business, explore the tourism industry, and also suggested them to explore the idea of going abroad.

Additionally, the PM also offered full support of the government to Gaydrungs exploring other means of employment, according to Dorji, the Limbukha gewog’s Gaydrung of Punakha.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu