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

Business Bhutan - - Finance - Pema Sel­don from Thim­phu

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.

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