Tashi Dema and Nim Dorji | Bumthang
If the government is the heart, the local governments are the vital organs, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said stressing the importance of the local governments.
He urged the gups, who gathered in Bumthang for the annual gups’ conference not to assume that the government is incapable without actually seeing the real potential.
Lyonchhen highlighted the different governance model government initiated and claimed some are already implemented.
He said it is time to change the five-year plan model by reducing the number of years. “Changing the 12th Plan was difficult, as some of the plans have come from local government.”
Prime Minister said for the government to succeed, it is important to allow the government to fulfill its pledges. He said it is difficult for any ruling government to implement its pledges because the previous governments draft the plan document.
He cited the example of how gups cannot implement what they pledged to the people because they do not have much authority. “It’s same with the government.”
The Prime Minister said giving the block grant to the gewog would allow capable gups to implement their pledges. “The grant amount is five times more than the previous budget and the authority of implementing the budget is with the local government.”
He said the block grants are not the only fund gewogs would have, as there are other flagship programmes like drinking water, waste management, cottage and small industries the government had approved.
However, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said gups should consult with everyone in villages where to spend the budget. He urged the gups not to overwork the Royal Audit Authority and Anti-Corruption Commission after five years, hinting on misuse of public fund.
He asked the gups to initiate plans to raise funds, as the country would receive less support after graduating from the least developed countries. “Gups should encourage the youth in the villages to initiate self-employment programmes.”
He informed the gups that the government would implement a flagship programme for information, communications and technology (ICT) from pre-primary soon.
He said the health minister is exploring funds to implement the revised pledge to provide rural maternity allowances and the government would support women from pregnancy till the child is two years. “After the second birthday, education ministry would take care of the child.”
Trashiyangtse Toedtsho gup Dechen Wangdi said gewog administrative officers (GAO) play an active role in good governance, but since some GAOs are on contract, they do not provide service as expected and it is important to regularise their service.”
To tackle gungtong issues, he said, policies like needing a population of 2,500 to construct a grade II basic health unit (BHU) and one teacher for 32 students, should change. “It is resulting in closing of schools.”
Prime Minister said the government has now asked all the BHU to be grade I. “He said the government would provide adequate human resources.”
Samdrupjongkhar’s Dewathang gup Leki Wangchuk said gewog offices should be spacious to house all the offices together. “If the RNR and community centres are in one place, it will help service delivery.”
Prime Minister suggested local government officials to construct chiwog offices instead of expanding the gewog offices.