Local leaders need to use GDG judiciously: National Council
The performance audit report of GDG found that Nu 31mn of the grant was wasted in the past two fiscal years
More than Nu 31mn of Gewog Development Grant (GDG) was wasted in the past two fiscal years on building infrastructure that are either not usable or incomplete due to lack of proper planning, coordination and monitoring, revealed the performance audit report of the grant.
The National Council’s (NC) Good Governance Committee presented the report to the house on November 21.
Under the GDG scheme, initiated in the fiscal year 2013-14, each gewog is allocated Nu 2mn per annum, which can be utilized for community development. The gewog authorities enjoy the discretion to use the fund.
The committee observed that there is a need for local leaders to utilize the fund judiciously and prudently.
The review was based on Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) performance audit report on GDG. The committee also studied the responses provided by the Ministry of Finance against each of the findings.
Of the many other concerns raised by the members on the RAA’s major findings, the discussions revolved around the allocation of funds based on the population and size of the gewogs.
One of the audit findings questioned the government’s logic in allocating equal amount of grant for gewogs without considering the poverty level, population, and size of the gewog. Another major finding pointed out that most grant activities implemented failed to comply with the GDG guidelines issued by the finance ministry.
Despite the grant providing better scope for fostering local economic growth, generating employment, and enhancing income opportunities for rural communities, there is a lack of new ideas and innovation by LG officials, states the audit report. Funds were also utilized on fragmented activities without long term impact.
The committee recommended the need for greater awareness on the GDG scheme since one of the main highlights of the RAA findings was noncompliance to existing guidelines on planning and execution of GDG funded activities in most gewogs. The committee also recommended the need to put in place monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure maximum compliance to the guidelines by the local authorities in future.
The committee also said that the capacity of local government offices as per section 265 of Local Government (Amendment) Act 2014 should be strengthened.
Among others, the members also sought clarification on the accountability on the failure to comply with the grant implementation guidelines, lack of awareness on the part of the public and lack of monitoring and human capacity.
The session ended with the House directing the committee to seek clarification on issues that needed further explanation to the audit authority and to draft questions for the finance ministry and Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs before preparing the report for final deliberation.