Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, in his keynote address to the participants of the eighth conference of the engineers, architects and planners yesterday, said corruption should be rooted out of the construction industry.

He said that it is an exaggeration to say that corruption has taken irreversible roots in the sector, but it is also a lie to say that it is free of corruption. “It is your job and my job to ensure that corrupt practices are not tolerated.”

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay also said planning, building, and maintaining infrastructure is fundamental to the progress of Bhutan.

He said that it is important to root out corruption practices from the sector and mobilise the sense of responsibility, accountability and efficiency. “If we build the right institution, we can build the right infrastructure of the highest quality that could be maintained.”

The Prime Minister said that it is time specialisation be a reality now. “We have contractors who have the capacity and the machinery.”

He said that it is only Construction Development Corporation Limited (CDCL) that has been able to construct bridges with Bhutanese workforce. “If CDCL could do that, our contractors should be able to do it too.”

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said the government is committed to investing in infrastructure, as it is important since the returns are good.

The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) will submit the 21 specific recommendations made during the three-day conference to the government for endorsement and support for implementation.

The ministry’s chief of planning and policy division, Dorji Wangmo, said that the conference recommended to review or revise the existing procurement system, including improvement of e-tools and create an enabling environment for encouraging specialisation.

The conference resolved that a definitive provision to provide incentives for specialisation must be included in the bidding documents. “The bidding document should stipulate that prime contractor shall hire specialised licensed professional firms or certified technicians for carrying out specialised works such as plumbing, electrical and carpentry etc. both in the public and private construction.”

The three-day conference also resolved to institute a council of engineers and architects by the end of 2017-2018 financial year and a committee for certification of structural engineers. It is also resolved that design and building works would be carried out by certified professionals.

The local governments shall identify protected areas and process for the incentives as per the procedure prescribed in the directives in coordination with the agencies responsible for delivery of subsidies and incentives.

It is also resolved that MoWHS should review the various HR positions of the thromdes and propose for transfer of staff on regular basis as per certain broad criteria. “The first transfer of staff should be carried out by January 2018.”

It is stated that while the thromdes cannot be given complete autonomy in human resources management matters, the conference resolved that the MoWHS and the thromdes will submit to the government and the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) to allow thromdes certain level of flexibility in recruitment and management of human resources on their own, at least for those positions in support and operations levels.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that the quality of infrastructure involves many stakeholders and long procurement procedure.

She said that to get good contractors, there has to be good procurement system. “The construction situation in Bhutan right now is similar to ‘Jack of all trades, master of none. Every contractor has many licenses but no professionalisation.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that he is looking forward to working together with the ministry on the recommendation.

The Prime Minister also launched the Road Safety Signs and Symbols document, which is expected to enhance the safety of road users.

The Prime Minister launched two documents, the Road Classification System and Tenancy Service System.

While the Road Classification System is expected to clarify the roles and ownership of the stakeholders and increased transparency in decision-making, the Tenancy Service System is expected to resolve tenancy related complaints and disputes.

Tashi Dema