Fulfilling the promises

The newly formed PDP government has the onerous task of incorporating its promises into the 11th Plan document.

The new government will find that while many of its promises are in sync with the plan, however, many other promises will have to be incorporated into it.

The task for the government will be to get the additional resources, over and beyond the draft plan, and also prioritize and make good on its promises.

Even after all efforts, and in all likelihood, PDP will not be able to completely fulfill all its promises mainly due to budgetary restrictions.

This was also visible for the previous government that had a list of partly fulfilled and around three unfulfilled promises. Further, during the 2013 campaign – most voters questioned the MPs on promises which they alleged had been promised verbally by DPT in 2008 at the local level but had not been fulfilled.

Be it the DPT, PDP or any other party – promises flowed freely during the 2013 election campaigns both from the party and individual candidates, but reality of meeting these promises has now set in.

The government of the day soon finds that resources are limited and that hard decisions will have to be made.

The PDP will have to be honest with the people and explain what is actually possible and not possible to be achieved. It may also have to review some unrealistic promises made in the heat of elections.

Another problem awaiting the PDP government is the limited capacity to implement even the approved programs due to the shortage of engineers, technical personnel, equipment, etc.

This was one of the reasons why many dzongkhags and even ministries were not able to meet targets with money being sent back to the Exchequer.

If this were not enough, the government will have to deal with a flawed procurement and monitoring system in many agencies- both at the central and dzongkhag level that lead to poor quality works.

Whatever the challenges, the government of the day will be held accountable by the people- not only in terms of the promises met, but equally also for the quality of work or services provided.

The PDP government should not be satisfied with just fulfilling pledges, but more importantly must work in the longer term to ensure that the system that actually delivers these pledges from the procurement committee to the site engineer is strengthened and made more accountable.

The 11th Plan of the PDP cannot be just development for development’s sake per se. Bhutan cannot afford the expensive farm roads heading nowhere or the big projects that turn into white elephants. PDP will have to also give equal focus on investing in those sectors of the economy that can lead Bhutan towards the path of self- reliance and self- sufficiency.

For example, adequate and targeted investments must be made for creating food self- sufficiency. The 11th Plan has put the people at the centre of it. If the choice is between an ostentatious cultural project or drinking water- PDP should opt for the latter. It has to also be a no frills plan that addresses the basics first and gets to the heart of issues that affect the country.

 

“I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you.”

Jennifer Donnelly

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