Yangchen C Rinzin

Officials of the local governments (LGs) raised issues like shortage of construction workers and materials because of the pandemic, which hampered implementation of planned activities. This was raised during the mid-term review of LGs, which was conducted virtually last week.

Gross National Happiness Commission’s (GNHC) chief planning officer for local development division, Tandin Wangmo, said the mid-term review helped the government take stock of the challenges affecting plan implementation, which would ultimately affect the achievement of the planned targets.

She said the mid-term review was conducted to see the progress of the 12th Plan activities. “It also allows the government to monitor the annual targets and review annual performance agreement (APA) for respective LGs.”

According to the chief planning officer, some LGs requested to change or revise key performance indicators or targets in the APA or to drop the targets. “GNHC has directed LGs to pursue the implementation of key performance indicators instead of dropping or revising it.”

She said that if there were activities that were genuinely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be reviewed during the terminal evaluation of the plan. “It would be discussed with the government performance management division.”

The Prime Minister informed LG officials that they would meet online every month to keep track of developmental activities, other issues and  for routine consultations.

 It was also revealed that Nu 15,101.86 million has been allocated as an annual grant for all the LGs for the fiscal year 2020-2021 of which Nu 10,590.59M has been spent as of April 30 this year.

Nu 2,825.75M annual grant was allocated to 205 gewogs and Nu 2,807.15M t the four thromdes. 

Meanwhile, LG officials raised that lack of adequate human resources, particularly teachers and medical professionals, is affecting the delivery of critical public services during the mid-term review.

They also stated they faced coordination challenges with central agencies and issues with private contractors.

Tandin Wangmo said that all these issues would be reported to the prime minister. “GNHC, as the central planning, monitoring and coordinating body, would seek directives from the prime minister and ensure to facilitate meetings with the relevant agencies to address all these issues.”

 She also said LGs are also encouraged to explore local construction workers with the Build Bhutan Project, skilling the local workforce in specialised construction skills and creating a conducive working environment. “Apart from solving issues, these initiatives would also strengthen the coordination between LGs and central agencies.”

Edited by Tashi Dema