Decentralisation policy will get a new boost in the 12th Plan, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay told the dzongdags during the inauguration of their annual three-day conference yesterday in Thimphu.

The conference is themed “role of dzongdag in local governance and decentralisation”.

Decentralisation process will unfold mainly in three areas of policy, budget and human resources.

Of the many goals of the Plan, decentralisation, which is key to the country’s socio-economic development, is one of its main facets, Lyonchhen said.

“While the dzongkhag tshogdu’s mandate is to make various policies for the local government, it has to be mindful of the national policies, the Constitution and the other existing laws,” he said.

The gewogs were given Nu 2.01 billion (B) as gewog development grant in the 11th Plan.

“Most of the budget has been used well but there is nothing concrete to show,” he said, adding that the budget was mostly used in maintenance and repair of temples, choetens and farm roads, among others.

Each gewog can undertake a project worth up to Nu 20 million in the 12th Plan.

The dzongkhags also received Nu 7 million (M) a year as development grant following the success of the gewog grants, the prime minister said.

“That is why, the local government in the 12th Plan will be allotted equal budget as the ministries/ central at Nu 58B,” Lyonchhen said. The ministries were given a huge share in the 11th Plan.

According to the draft 12th Plan, the total outlay of the Plan, estimated at Nu 336B, is 50 percent more than the 11th Plan.

Of the outlay, the capital budget for local government includes Nu 300M for each dzongkhag and Nu 5M as gewog development grant, an increase from the current Nu 2M. “Both grants need to be increased,” Lyonchhen said.

The finance ministry will allot another Nu 31.975B through the resource allocation formula depending on the population, size, and the status of development. The 12th Plan would also have an increased common minimum infrastructure budget of Nu 17B from Nu 5B in the 11th Plan.

To bring equal development, those dzongkhags and gewogs that do not have basic infrastructure will be given minimum infrastructure budget besides the capital budget to build or procure these facilities.

The current norm is that the local governments come to Thimphu to discuss their budgets with the finance ministry.

In the 12th Plan, they will get the budget in terms of annual grants and need not come to Thimphu.

“It’s then more important on how the dzongkhags will plan, execute, monitor and evaluate development works,” lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen said that local governments need to develop their human resources for decentralisation. He said that not much could be done on this front in the 11th Plan.

“The dzongdags are the main drivers for the successful implementation of decentralisation,” he said.

Lyonchhen asked the dzongdags to discuss on aspects of the draft 12th Plan on decentralisation and submit recommendations.

“It’s obvious from the 11th Plan terminal report that the dzongdags and dzongkhags have done well to achieve in some areas beyond the plan targets,” he said.

He said he has completed the 11th Plan terminal report presentation in 15 dzongkhags and is left with Tsirang, Dagana, Trongsa, Sarpang and Zhemgang.

He said that decentralisation was enhanced in the 11th Plan, which gave an opportunity for the local governments, albeit with added responsibilities.

The government considered all of the recommendations that the dzongdags submitted in the 23rd annual conference.

However, Lyonchhen said that the government could not support all the recommendations.

“The important ones were implemented,” he said.

The conference is an annual event that provides a platform for interaction between central agencies and the dzongdags. It is also an opportunity for the dzongdags to discuss common issues, both formally and informally.

The dzongdags will discuss the challenges of policies being implemented at the local level. The central agencies will sensitise the dzongdags on new initiatives and policies requiring support from the local governments.

Fifteen dzongdags are attending the closed door conference organised by the Department of Local Governance.

Tshering Palden