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Of moral compass

Whether it really thwarted their ability to carry out development activities or because it simply interrupted their convenient ways of doing things, but some dzongdas raised a pertinent point yesterday.

Dzongdas of the country’s 20 districts were in the capital for their 20th annual conference.

One of the main concerns some of them shared with the prime minister was the fear of being listed among those in the financial irregularities before then being subject to Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation.

But before that, it was the procurement and financial rules that acted as tools to straitjacket their decision to carryout development activities in keeping with changes in priorities of the various communities within their dzongkhags.

The issue was also raised in relation to development activities that were out of the planned activities or in absence of a separate budget set aside for a project that dzongdas had to often make decisions on.

The dilemma was one they faced often with regards to construction of farm roads, water supply and irrigation channels.

So what ought the dzongdas to do, was the question and an ethical one.

But so long as the government money, mobilised for development activities to benefit people across the nation, was used with the best of intentions, such fears should be allayed.

Like the prime minister responded, even if activities fell outside of the plans and budget allocation, if development activities were carried out in the best interest of the beneficiaries and the country, such issues should least bother the heads of the districts.

The government, he said, would stand behind such bold judgments and decisions.

That is how it should be, because as district administrators, the dzongdas are closest to the people, to understand their needs, priorities and where the public money would benefit the people the most.

That in turn would save the government and the country from wasting funds that are hard to come by, which even if they do, come with shackles painted in gold.

Merely trying to keep books of accounts clean to save oneself from the unnecessary troubles it might invite later is just as uncertain as the possible gratification that would emanate from having enhanced the lives of many people who only have gratitude to express, should a project succeed.

The trust and faith that villagers of the country’s numerous remote pockets place in the dzongdas to steer them out of the shadows and into the light should not just weigh as a heavy responsibility but also serve as a moral compass from going wrong.

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