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What the Chapcha gup couldn’t get it done after a year of running, the Prime Minister got it done in minutes. The gup had been running from pillar to post to get the gewog centre relocated.

Public service del(ay)very

What the Chapcha gup couldn’t get it done after a year of running, the Prime Minister got it done in minutes. The gup had been running from pillar to post to get the gewog centre relocated.

On Tuesday, Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay made the decision on the spot while meeting the people of the gewog. Perhaps it is because the Prime Minister has all the authority but it did also reveal the layer of bureaucracy and redtapism in our system.

The gewog’s people had given the clearance, the budget was allocated, but they couldn’t move ahead as there was no approval. There is logic in the decision to relocate the centre, as it would save cost of blacktopping the gewog road and is closer to the highway. The home minister didn’t object to the spot decision.

After years of talking and preaching of improving service delivery and cutting red tape, not much, it seems, have translated into actions. Soon after he took the reins of the government in 2008, the then prime minister ordered all government agencies to find ways to reduce their administrative burden. Huge budget had been spent on improving services, a responsibility of the government.

This has continued with the present government. We have established gewog centres, government to citizen office and even mobile applications developed to improve our service delivery. Yet, the story is almost the same.

And the most common complaints are on services that people have to depend on a daily basis including on basic necessities. Whether it is the early morning long lines at a LPG depot, paying fines or fees, licence renewals or getting a land or property transferred, there is ample room for improvement.

Those availing services are so generous they even suggest ideas or alternatives to improve services after a few hours of waiting in a line. Our officials sitting on the chair for years cannot. Yet they complain when they leave their office to avail service from others. The mentality that it is not my job is so strong that no government can change it. That is why we have one cashier attending to a long line of customers when the other is on leave or “gone to the hospital.”

Outside the government, the scene is no different in the corporate world. The facility technology has brought along with it is yet to pick up for several reasons including reliability. It takes a lot of waiting to deposit a few thousands of Ngultrums at all the commercial banks even today, for instance.

There is a belief that we are small and easier to manage. Going by the trend it is a false belief.  The will to manage is severely lacking. It has become our habit to delay. What happened in Chapcha, some say was a populist decision.  But if there are people or governments that can change the way services are delivered, people will win the votes.

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