Civil ser­vice role and po­lit­i­cal pri­or­i­ties

Business Bhutan - - Editorial -

Con­trary to past elec­tions, we are see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of civil ser­vants get­ting into pol­i­tics.

It’s not only re­signed se­nior civil ser­vants, who are set­ting foot in pol­i­tics af­ter res­ig­na­tion, but there is also an in­creas­ing num­ber of civil ser­vants who are re­sign­ing to con­test in the 2018 elec­tions.

In­ter­est­ingly, civil ser­vice is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a place where po­lit­i­cal par­ties are head­hunt­ing for po­ten­tial and prospec­tive can­di­dates as we gear up for the third par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

The trend, how­ever, is a good in­di­ca­tion and a good one for our bur­geon­ing democ­racy. The civil ser­vants are dubbed as the cream of the na­tion, al­beit for a good rea­son too. We have many ca­pa­ble heads of gov­ern­ment agen­cies – the bu­reau­crats such as the sec­re­taries, di­rec­tors and et al. And they are cho­sen amongst hun­dreds as the most de­serv­ing peo­ple.

The en­try of civil ser­vants will def­i­nitely be good in terms of deep­en­ing democ­racy and bu­reau­cracy. At least it shows that they are not into pol­i­tics look­ing for a job. It’s sim­ply be­cause re­sign­ing from civil ser­vice could be an in­di­vid­ual’s hard­est de­ci­sion. It’s like a re­lin­quish­ing a well se­cure job, a timely pay, train­ings, work­shops, other perks and in­cen­tives. Res­ig­na­tion, there­fore, means slam­ming your door to all these ben­e­fits.

Another dif­fi­culty is that a civil ser­vant just can­not go out and get back in the civil ser­vice as he/she wants. Why would a civil ser­vant re­sign, de­lib­er­ately know­ing that he/she will never be able to join back? Such con­di­tions are al­ready stip­u­lated in the Bhutan Civil Ser­vice Rules and Reg­u­la­tions 2010. Then there is the three-year cool­ing pe­riod too where a per­son af­fil­i­ated with a po­lit­i­cal party must serve to vie for any civil ser­vice open­ings. This ap­plies to the can­di­dates too, mean­ing that a for­mer civil ser­vant af­ter los­ing the elec­tions can­not just go back and serve in the civil ser­vice.

How­ever, the politi­ciza­tion of civil ser­vice has also emerged as a se­ri­ous is­sue lately with po­lit­i­cal par­ties ap­proach­ing civil ser­vants in high and in­flu­en­tial po­si­tions to be their can­di­dates dur­ing the elec­tions. There were many civil ser­vants, who had con­sented to be party can­di­dates af­ter po­lit­i­cal par­ties ap­proached them, even if they were still serv­ing and con­tin­ued to serve in the civil ser­vice.

While there is noth­ing wrong when a po­lit­i­cal party ap­proaches a civil ser­vant, how­ever, the prob­lem arises when such a prac­tice could pos­si­bly un­der­mine the in­tegrity and apo­lit­i­cal sta­tus of the civil ser­vice. This goes with their po­si­tion too.

For in­stance in one Dzongkhag, a sec­tion of the peo­ple there al­ways grum­bled in in­for­mal gath­er­ings and con­gre­ga­tions that they had to wait for weeks to meet the Dzongdag. When asked the rea­son, it was told that the Dzongdag was most of­ten in another nearby Dzongkhag, fa­mil­iar­iz­ing him­self among his elec­torates for the elec­tions.

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