KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu
Before the end of the year 2022, ministries and various civil service agencies were reconstituted on 30 December with the enactment of the Civil Service Reform Act of Bhutan 2022.
The Civil Service Reform Act was passed down during the recent winter parliament session of 2022. The act comprised of nine ministries along with some reorganization of civil service agencies.
Given that the act only includes nine ministries, it is unclear who will resign from the position of minister.
The reform bill consisted of four chapters and 38 sections for the reform and ensuring effective governance in the country.
Now the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has been renamed the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MoAL).
Similarly, the Ministry of Education has changed its name to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), and the National Commission for Women and Children Secretariat has been absorbed into MoESD. The Ministry will now act as the Commission’s secretariat.
The duties of the former MoE’s Quality Assurance and Accreditation Division, Higher Education and Planning Division, Engineering Council of Bhutan, Bhutan Medical and Health Council, and Bhutan Board for Certified Counselors (BBCC) have also been absorbed into the newly established Bhutan Qualification and Professional Certification Authority (BQPCA) under MoESD.
In contrast, a new Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) has been established, consisting of five departments, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Geology and Mines, which were transferred from the previous Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).
From the previous Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the Department of Forests and Park Services has been transferred. A new Department of Water that consolidates the water resources management mandates from various agencies has been formed.
The National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS) has been reconstituted and renamed as the Department of Environment & Climate Change. The Department will function as the secretariat to the National Environment Commission.
Lastly, Bhutan Electricity Authority is renamed the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), and will be under the auspices of the new ministry.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the other hand, has now been renamed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MoFAET).
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health (MoH) will continue to go by the same name. But the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority and Drug Regulatory Authority have been merged as the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority under the wing of MoH.
The Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs has been renamed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA). The Department of Culture has been renamed as Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development after subsuming Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC). The Department will be the secretariat to the Dzongkha Development Commission.
The Ministry’s Department of Local Governance and Department of Disaster Management has been merged to form the new Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management.
Similarly, The Ministry of Economic Affairs has been renamed the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE). Under the ministry there will be the Department of Industry and Department of Trade, which has been transferred from the former MoEA. The Department of Employment and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Labour, which has been transferred from the former MoLHR.
The Department of Information and Media has been merged with the Department of Intellectual Property, and renamed the Department of Media, Creative Industry and Intellectual Property.
The Former Tourism Council of Bhutan has been subsumed under the MoICE as the Department of Tourism and will function as the secretariat to the Tourism Commission of Bhutan.
The Office of Consumer Protection has been renamed the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority and the Bhutan Standards Bureau has been folded under MoICE and will function as the secretariat to the Bureau and the Media Council of Bhutan.
Whereas, the National Film Commission has been merged with the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) where BICMA will now be under the auspices of MoICE and serve as the secretariat to the Authority.
The Ministry of Works and Human Settlements has been renamed the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MoIT). Under MoIT, the Road Safety and Transport Authority and the Department of Roads have been merged as the Department of Surface Transport.
Regulatory functions under the Department of Roads, Road Safety and Transport Authority, and Construction Development Board have been subsumed under the new Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority (BCTA). The BCTA will be under the auspices of the MoIT and serve as the secretariat to the Authority.
Meanwhile, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications under the former Ministry of Information and Communications has been reconstituted as the Government Technology Agency.