Rumours were rife about a possible hike in price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the capital.
But agencies concerned did not intervene to refute such speculations.
Given our compulsive tendency to hoard, we are now facing shortage of LPG in fuel depots. This artificial shortage that has been created and to an extent allowed to happen, has left residents irked.
Apart from the shortage and the blame game that we are seeing, this situation indicates poor management, both of LPG cylinders and rumours. Hoarding may be considered unproductive, but we need to see this practice in the right context. We Bhutanese have a tendency to hoard resources provoked perhaps by our fear of shortage that is likely to occur unannounced and due to lack of confidence in our authorities’ efficiency in management.
We hoard Indian rupees, chillies, meat, kerosene, salt and even car parking spaces. Our dependence on fuel and food supplies from India continues to fuel our fears of shortage while the inaction from the ministry of economic affairs and the agencies concerned only compounds this problem.
With social media empowering citizens to voice their concerns and make issues visible, our authorities must realise that they do not have the option to wait for an official complaint to react. When it concerns essentials and basic needs, their response to verify rumours and allay fears must be prompt.
We continue to blame our culture and the society’s laid-back attitude to justify complacency. Should exceptions be made to this norm, it is often because of the complainant and not the complaint. These instances reveal traits of an unequal society because a person’s official and financial position drives the pace of public service delivery.
The drinking water supply system in the city is evident of how basic public services are delivered. So when we are told that our living standards have risen, we need to see this phenomenon in the context of citizens who struggle to avail basic services. Hoarding resources must not be construed as a rise in people’s purchasing power but rather as a desperate attempt to secure essentials that may not be available to them but to the influential, should there be a shortage.
Despite efforts to improve public service delivery with the help of technology, there is much to be done. Technology alone is not enough if users sitting behind computers are not doing their share of work. It is the people who will realise our grand plans and visions for the country. The 11th Plan, which is almost over, focused on self-reliance but here we are hoarding LPG, one of the many products that is supplied from abroad.
It is time Bhutan explored alternatives for cooking fuels like LPG and kerosene and avenues to distribute cooking fuels through a network of pipes. There is a need to enhance monitoring and curb deflation. The responsibility to make Bhutan a self-reliant country falls on every Bhutanese, not outsiders.