Agriculture and related activities were found to be the main employer in Lhuentse, Paro, and Zhemgang according to the report on citizen’s perception on basic public services.

The report states that in contrast to Paro with only about 18 percent, about 30 percent of respondent households in Lhuentse and Zhemgang had reported employment of their family members in non-agriculture sector.  “Within the array of non-agricultural jobs, civil service and public administration still seem to be the most preferred sectors for employment.”

The report states that in agriculture and allied activities more than 80 percent of the respondent households received some form of governmental support and are satisfied. The main commercial produce for Lhuentse includes milk, chili, potato, and paddy while for Paro, it is milk, chili, potato, paddy, and apple. For Zhemgang, the main produce is chili, orange, ginger, and cinnamon.

The report was released on December 9 in Thimphu, coinciding with the International Anti-Corruption Day themed united against corruption for development, peace and security.

Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI) conducted the study ‘Citizens’ Perception on Implementation of 11th Five Year Plan at the Mid-Term Feedback on Basic Public Services 2017.’

Executive director of BTI, Pema Lhamo said the study aimed to generate systematic feedback directly from people on their experience of accessing basic prioritised public services and entitlements under the 11th Plan.

Basic public services and entitlements included health care, sanitation and drinking water, education, renewable natural resources, employment and social protection, preservation and promotion of culture, conservation of environment, and government to citizen (G2C) service delivery.

The study was conducted in 793 selected households of Paro, Lhuentse, and Zhemgang. “These dzongkhags were selected based on their geographic location (west, north and south) and their relative ranking on the GNH Index 2010 and do not reflect the quality and reliability of basic public services across the country,” Pema Lhamo said.

According to the report, more than 80 percent of households in Paro and Lhuentse have physical access to healthcare facility while more than 50 percent of households in Zhemgang reported having difficulty. However, more than 50 percent of households in all three dzongkhags were found to be satisfied with the services received at Basic Health Units and referral hospitals.

High incidences of referrals along with limited access to ambulance on demand were found to place additional financial burden on access to quality healthcare service.

Although there is no constraint in access to primary education, the report states that only one household in Lhuentse reported their children pursuing tertiary education. “In Zhemgang, physical access even to high school has been a challenge; and that perhaps (partially) explains the significant drop in high school enrollment.”

The report states that less than 40 percent of households had applied for G2C services through Community Centres in the last one year. While 70 percent of the G2C service users in Zhemgang reported taking less than 30 minutes to complete an application process, 87 percent of users in Paro reported needing more than an hour.

At the event, BTI also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with five colleges – Paro College of Education, College of Natural Resources, Sherubtse College, Gaeddu College of Business Studies and Royal Thimphu College to engage youth in governance programmes to expose and empower them mentally to shoulder the responsibility of nation building.

The program themed ‘Youth Practitioners for Accountability Bhutan (YPAB)’ aims to create a generation of youth leaders with integrity, who would lead in ensuring good governance in the country.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden said the report would be a good reflection of public services delivered by the government. “It will be a good reference document for further planning and improvement in providing services to the people.”

She said that fighting corruption requires transformation at an individual level. “I strongly believe that the best tools for fighting corruption are good governance and credible leaders at all levels.”

Karma Cheki