The implementation of the annual grants for gewog (AGG) has now begun. The first allotment of Nu 2.4 billion of the total package of Nu 12 billion has already been sanctioned for the 205 gewog in the country.

Here is the opportunity for real decentralisation.

Many a State plan has gone wrong because it did not benefit the people in a remarkable way. What it means is that the available budget was squandered for the good it was designed for. AGG gives the authority to plan development and demand change. This means our people in the communities should be able to streamline the development needs according to imperatives that define them.

Let us forget the billions of ngultrums for a little while. We can afford that, can’t we? What we cannot omit, however, is the rapidity of change that is affecting even the furthest of our communities. We talk about big flagship programmes all right. The danger is in losing small but critically important elements that sustain the life of the nation.

AGG, as we understand, is giving the power to the members of the community to decide their own development needs. The beauty of this idea is that every single farmer can contribute to the building of the community that is fast disintegrating.

Recently, a workshop in Paro, spearheaded by Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy tried infusing the idea of community ownership by transferring the roles of upkeep down to the last resident. As a member of a community, we have the responsibility to co-create our own environment in the way we want for our posterity.

The development initiatives down from the bureaucracy perhaps did not succeed as they should have because we lost the real picture along the way. We could so not understand why our farmlands are left fallow. Consequently, today, we have people by droves leaving their homes and moving in to urban areas for better livelihoods.

AGG now gives the local government leaders to listen to the people and bring the real change that is critically important to the communities. In other words, we now have the freedom to build own future.