Planned developments come with challenges of their own. The problem, of course, does not lie in the objectives of the development plans themselves; it is in the planning where we seem to flounder quite often. As a small economy with formidable physical barriers, failures could be there. But that does not and, should not give us any space for an excuse.
In fact, this day, the very difficulties and challenges that we are facing should be viewed as opportunities.
Today, many of our planned projects are failing. Worse, there is no clear system of accountability, which further aggravates the problem. We take pride in being in the position to learn from the mistakes that others made because we started late in the journey of development. This, however, is no more relevant today. The kind of development we are witnessing demands a far more systematic way of doing things to achieve the important national goals.
There is a need to break from the past even as the past will always remain our most important reference point. What is critically important today is to look to the future. If the question is whether we are doing this, the answer is “no”.
In the meanwhile, the challenges are growing—decreasing agricultural land and rising youth unemployment. These are the problems facing the country that cannot be seen in isolation, and our efforts to address these challenges are less than adequate. In the coming years so, the problem can spill out of our hands. In a way, it already has. Why should we be concerned with overseas employment when we are facing manpower shortage in every sector almost?
The civil servants are giving their best, but who is not, really? His Majesty The King’s recent message to the nation comes to mind. If there is a planning failure in the country, the civil and public servants will have to take the blame because they are at the core of the system.
Problems of the day must be put in the perspective, however. And there is no need to look elsewhere. Why are our irrigation channels running dry? Why are our taps without water? It is difficult to reconcile with the fact that as a water-rich country in the region, we are increasingly facing shortage of water.
The real problem is not the lack of water, but the accessibility to the precious resource. What is clear, on the other hand, is absolute lack of a coordinated management among the stakeholders. For example, farmers of Tseza in Dagana are unable to grow paddy because the irrigation channel was wrongly aligned is almost unbelievable. How could this have happened?
Recently, also in Dagana, a vegetable shed was converted to bus terminal because farmers could not sell their produce. The lack of market was not the problem; lack of marketing was. But the bigger problem is the way we are squandering our precious little resource with wrong planning. That is perhaps why we still have a large number of our people under the national poverty line.
In the meanwhile, development problems in our hands are growing.