Dzongdas seek centre’s support in effort to meet annual performance agreements

APA: Given the challenges the dzongkhags are confronted with, the government is a long way away from creating a favourable environment for civil servants to meet their targets and deliver quality service.

Dzongkhag administration officials from Paro, Haa, Gasa, Wangdue and Punakha said they were bogged down by the same old problems of shortage of staff, lack of budget and barely functional pool vehicles, among others.

Paro dzongda Chencho Tshering said his dzongkhag had a serious waste problem, and the administration would not be able to deliver on the waste-free district commitment, if it does not get at least two more trucks – a dumper and a compressor.

“Everyday Paro town produces 17 metric tonnes of waste, but we couldn’t get the trucks despite proposing for the past three years,” Chencho Tshering said.

Punakha dzongda Phub Tshering said the pool vehicles they have are old and rickety, which needed immediate replacement, but the government would not approve any budget for new vehicle purchase. “We have to do something urgently on this issue,” he said.

Haa dzongda Sonam Wangdi, echoing similar challenges, said that deployment of new or replacement of those transferred or retired engineers or accountants took long time and hampered the progress of developmental works.

Gasa dzongda Sonam Jigme said sourcing funds for activities that were not in the APA was difficult.  For instance, both the tourism council and the Jigme Dorji National Park refused to provide funds to establish roadside amenities.

While the prime minister gave specific instructions to maintain all farm and gewog connectivity roads open to traffic throughout the year, dzongkhag officials said keeping this commitment would be difficult for want of machineries.

Wangdue dzongrab Pema said, “The insufficient travel budget for all sectors is adversely affecting the timely monitoring, supervisory works and data collection.”

On the need of a economic affairs ministry representative in the dzongkhag, especially to deal with setting up of small and medium enterprises, the prime minister had said on the previous day that the planning officers should take the responsibility.

“We’re not saying we won’t do it, but we need training to learn how to do the job,” one of the planning officers said.

A dzongda said the regional trade or revenue and customs offices could take up this mandate. “Except for collecting the annual taxes or renewing licenses, the regional officials hardly visit the dzongkhags,” he said.

Dzongkhag officials also said that the budget was not enough, as labour charges have shot up, and people are not willing to work at the national wage rate.

The National Statistical Bureau would establish a gewog level database system, which may also be a problem for most dzongkhags.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, who chaired the daylong review on March 13, said the dzongkhags should capitalise on their potential, such as tourism, vegetable or livestock production, and other products.

However, other dzongkhag officials said they lacked knowledge and expertise on the tourism industry.

“There’s no forum to interact with the relevant agencies and access expertise and funds,” a dzongkhag official

Paro dzongda also proposed to suspend approving new constructions in the valley until the Paro valley development plan is complete and approved.

“Otherwise, it would be difficult to implement the plan later,” he said.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden assured that her ministry would expedite work on the plan and complete it within this fiscal year.

The mid-year APA review is now complete.

All districts should submit their APA for the next fiscal on or before March 20.

Budget discussions begin from March 23.

By Tshering Palden, Paro