Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay will monitor if government agencies are taking more than the required time in delivering public services.  He will track the progress from his desk, made possible by the eDesk system developed locally.

This is a welcome initiative.  Officials responsible will be on their toes, as their progress would be colour coded to indicate progress, and the lyonchoen will be informed real time about the status at the click of a button.

Officials concerned should not view this initiative as interference, as these are services the government is mandated to provide.  The 24 services that are already in the system are services in crucial areas.  Despite years of emphasis on improving service delivery, there are more complaints among users than appreciation, with the exception of the online security clearance system.

A lot has improved in some agencies, but some seem to resist change.  Officialdom always has convincing reasons to delay services.  The oft-quoted today is “system is down.”  While some understand what it means, many users, those that travel for days from the backwaters, are left confused.  A day’s delay translates to a day’s work missed and extra expenditure.

Try providing feedback and officials are ready to retaliate.  Not to generalise, but some even behave like they are doing a favour, forgetting that it is their responsibility.  The eDesk system will make officials do their duty.   The prime minister of the country will be checking the progress every morning.  Agencies’ performance will be evaluated based on service delivery, as this will be linked to the performance management system.

The system was developed locally with a simple budget.  It sounds effective, especially with the prime minister monitoring it.  On hindsight, we wonder why this was not thought of before.  A lot could have been achieved.

If the initiative works, it should be replicated outside the government agencies.  There are many services public corporations and state-owned enterprises provide that are equally important and also time consuming.  The corporate world has advanced, but officialdom is very much present in our corporate system.  Some are worse than the government and bureaucrats.

Service delivery could also be improved, should there be better coordination among agencies, both government and outside the government.  Its absence sometimes sends people running around and keeps them waiting even for months.

As the civil service is saturated, jobseekers are asked to start business and become employers instead.  To start a dairy farm with three jersey cows, for instance, a proponent needs loan, community and environment clearance, a trade license and many other documents.

Such a long drawn out system or lack of coordination will discourage people.