Among other developmental activities, many gewogs chose to use the fund for farm roads
Gewog officials are busy discussing with their people and working out areas to invest the Nu 2mn Gewog Development Grant (GDG). While officials in some gewogs are yet to hold talks with public on the fund implementation, some have already listed out developmental activities.
Most gewog leader who talked to The Bhutanese said apart from various developmental activities such as renovation of monasteries, enhancement of drinking and irrigation water supply and footpaths, among others, much part of the fund will be allocated for construction or maintenance of farm roads in the gewogs.
Bumthang’s Chumme Gup Tandin Phuntsho said, “The GDG grant will be used as per the guidelines, and most of the people raised concerns about the need of a cremation ground in the gewog.”
He said people have also vouched for maintenance of farm roads and the need of footpaths across the villages. “I have raised this issue in the Dzongkhag Tshogdue (DYT). We have kept water supply activities for the next plan,” he added.
The Gup of Gesarling gewog under Dagana, Mani Kumar Ghishing said, “The grant is divided within five chiwogs under my gewog, and the grant will be provided annually to all chiwogs.”
The first chiwog to use the grant, he said, is Tashithang for road widening, construction of walls, drains and maintenance of roads. “I have discussed the plans with our people on November 28,” he said.
Lhuntse’s Minjay Gup Jigme Tshewang said, “Most of the people in my gewog raised issue on the need of maintaining our farm roads and it was approved by the DYT.”
The maintenance works along the roads have already kicked off in the gewog.
However, some gewogs across the country have not yet decided or discussed with people on the implementation of the fund.
Gondue Gup of Mongar, Sonam Tshering said nothing has been discussed about the GDG as yet.
In the west, Haa’s Uesu Gup Tenzin Jamba said, “When we discussed about it, many people raised issues pertaining to their own individual
benefits. Now, I have asked the Tshogpa of respective chiwogs to collect reasonable views from the peoples which shall be discussed on December 9.”
In the south, Tendu Gup of Samtse, Pema Wangchuk said, “The guidelines on GDG implementation were discussed with the people by our Member of Parliament. Right after, the Prime Minister’s visit to our gewog, we will discuss the plans on December 20.”
Sarpang’s Chhudzom Gup Mon Badhur Galley also said, “We have discussed only the guidelines of the GDG on November 7, and have planned to discuss with the people about it on December 4.”
Tashigang’s Samkhar Gup Sonam Dorji said discussions have concluded in three chiwogs of the total six. “The most common issue from these three chiwogs was on the need of water supply and maintenance of farm roads.”
The Gup of Yalang gewog under Trashiyangtse, Chosung Wangdi said, “People voiced out for a need of common kitchen in the gewog, and other issues such as disaster management and renovation of lhakhangs.”
The GDG, according to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government’s manifesto, is for developmental activities and supposed to be excluded from the normal capital budget of the 11th Five-Year Plan.
According to the guidelines for implementation of the GDG, the funds shall be used to create income and employment generating programs and activities in the gewog, or used to co-fund development activities covered by annual budget, may also be used to fund immediate disaster relief activities, shall cover and benefit the communities, shall cover and benefit all chiwogs broadly.
It shall not be used for financing like, normal operation or recurrent expenditures of the gewog administration, purchase of office vehicles, acquisition of land and buildings, contribution and donations, a project, or any part thereof, which involves personal awards to any person in cash or in kind and buying shares, purchase of CGI sheets and barbed wire fencing and providing scholarships to an individual, celebrations, political campaigns and activities that conflict with existing government policies.
The primary adjective of establishing the grant is to achieve the government’s vision of “Wangtse Chirphel – Prosperity for All”, by empowering gewogs with greater financial flexibility. By providing additional resources over and above the regular budget, it is also aimed to help promote and achieve balanced and equitable socio-economic development. The grant also falls under the promises the ruling party had promised to deliver in first 100 Days in office.
While the Opposition, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has argued that the GDG is no different from the former government’s controversial Constituency Development Grant (CDG), the government has made it clear that the GDG is entirely different from the former government’s initiative.
One of the main differences pointed out is that the local government (LG) will have full authority over the GDG and Parliamentarians will have no say in the matter, whatsoever, except to provide check and balance. The government found it unconstitutional for Assembly Members to engage in the matter.