Real accountability

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, the works and human settlement minster, was reportedly “shocked and alarmed” at news that his ministry was underutilizing its budget allocations. The Ministry of Works and Human Settlement has apparently used barely15% of this financial year’s budget although more than half the year has already elapsed.

Is Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba really shocked and alarmed? I hope not. After all, we expect our ministers to have a good idea of how their respective ministries are performing or underperforming, as the case may be. So if he is really shocked, if he is really alarmed, we should be concerned. In fact, we should be horrified. We should be appalled that he does not know what’s going on in his own ministry.

The minister has assured us that he will look into the matter personally, and that he will hold “respective individuals accountable.” That’s good. We desperately need accountability. But accountability, real accountability, begins with the head of the organization, in this case with the minister himself.

So if his ministry is underperforming, and underperforming badly, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba must accept full responsibility.

But if, because of him, other organisations are also suffering, he must take even bigger responsibility. And that, unfortunately, is what seems to be happening with the Thimphu and Phuentsholing city corporations. The city corporations are not under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement. They are autonomous. Yet their budgets seem to be controlled by the ministry. If that is so, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba must take full responsibility for encroaching on the powers of local government and for undermining their performance.

Shock and alarm will not improve the performance of the ministry or the two city corporations. For that, there’s only one remedy: accountability.

 

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  1. Rabi Chhetri says:

    I am with you on this fully. The minister Yeshey Zimba should take the full responsibility. Yes, our city authorities are supposedly autonomouse organizations, so why is MoWHS still clinging to the power?

  2. Financial expenditure is always measured against physical achievement. Maybe there is physical achievement and late payments could have indicated underutilisation of budget. Thus, negative financial achievement. It requires verification.

  3. OL, sadly, in knowing these inefficiencies in the full public glare, it just reflects only a miniature part of the reality story on how our top bureaucrats perform their duties in an utter short sighted and small minded fashion in today’s real world. When you work with your safe button on in an irresponsibly public unfriendly manner, this is what awaits us by way of an output or end result. This happens when RCSC’s laxity culture concept succeeds into getting on the better part of our bureaucrats’ working nerve. This shows that the bulk of our bureaucrats are now a spoilt lot. This is now the reality and the Bhutanese people must acknowledge this truth. Unless, RCSC as the responsible organization awakes to these shortcomings and decides onto doing something drastic (may be applying more of a stick approach) in regaining the public’s faith in the civil servants, things may deteriorate further down the drain.

    What can a single Shapto Lyonpo do when bulk of the civil servants are now heading on the spoilt path? OL, if you are keen on having the answer, please direct them to the RCSC and see what they have to say on their spoilt civil servant Dashos?

  4. Actually that “shocking and alarmed” by Lyonpo Y Zimba on budget under usage is a good acting to alibi his utmost responsibility. public casting vote for him should realize his potentiality and recommend him to joining acting career. what does he know about the functioning of his ministry if he even doesn’t know the most important thing “budget usage”. this also shows that the development plans are never implemented as per the plans and budget allocation. It is a brutal reality that this king of irresponsible ones have held our country back, if they cannot execute even the plans what extra initiatives our country can expect from such.

  5. this kind of,,,,

  6. OL is right that people at the top has to take full responsibility and accountability but sadly this is not happening. Only the people down the lines are made accountable for executing the bosses’ orders and instructions.
    like zhapto lhengkhag the Chegyel Lhenkhag has been in the news for millions of dollars and thousands of euros and it topped the list of lapses and irregularities including the missions and embassies. bangkok embassy topped with millions of USD and surprisingly former bangkok kutsab has been nominated and appointed as Home secretary.So who is responsible and accountable for millions of USD and THB.
    Similarly, Brussels kutsab was prematurely recalled and RAA report indicate serious lapses, yet government has not taken any action so far.
    Whoever may be responsible must be made accountable irrespective of position and background.
    OL may recollect how some civil servants of MoE lost their service for few hundred ngultrums for adjusting in the workshop.
    we look forward and rely on ur excellency to pressureise govt. on such discrepancies and their preaching of zero tolorance to corruption.

  7. Yes,accountability should start from top. Lyonpo has to face the public and should be answerable. It should then trickle down the line whoever is responsible for failure like secretary, director, div head etc..

    Also, small observation and reminder to honorable OL that when things goes well, you have been very specific to thank,applaud and appreciate civil servants and other concern agencies. But here, I don’t find any mention of people who r actually responsponsible for implementing and advising the minister. Such double standard may appease certain section of people but in a long run people may doubt whether you are genuinely concerned about correcting the system or they may consider it as just another political rhetoric/statement…just my thought!

  8. Pholangkatang says:

    If the father of the family has no concern of what his family is up to, he is a father of failure by definition. When the head fails, who will drag the tail. So its a good time, if what has been mentioned here is true, to look at the accountability of our what we call experienced and respected heads. We are so used to be going by trust that says “they do well.” We are mostly blind to the aplenty failures that people commit.

    If there are no resources in the government, we have nothing to do and we don’t ask too. But having had enough resources and underutilising these seems to be the failure of those executing officials. There are many who are deprived of even a meal. Shouldn’t we think about deploying resources efficiently???

  9. Mieko Nishimizu says:

    I am all for accountability.

    By the way, underspending the budget isn’t necessarily “underperforming”, is it?

    One must not measure performance by inputs — or outputs for that matter. One hopes the government succeeds in delivering outcomes it is held accountable for. And, it it does so with less than planned budget, that’s even better!

  10. From BBS website:

    Only 7 out of 26 completed
    Feb 19 2012

    Farm road constructions in Lhuentse Dzongkhag are not completed as planned in the 10th Five Year Plan. Out of the 26 farm roads under construction so far, only seven farm roads have been completed. As a result, the Planning Officer says that more than Nu .98 million has been left as outstanding bill pending.
    The Planning Officer of Lhuentse Dzongkhag, Tshering Dendup, says both the Dzongkhag and the contractors are worried. The contractors have not been paid properly for the last six months. “The farm roads, which are under construction by the contractors, are paid in few advances and we have not been able to pay them. When we say we need more than Nu. 98 million it does not mean the government has not given at all,” said the Planning Officer, adding that since the farm roads are still under construction the funds from SDPs are yet to reach them.
    However, not any of the works are put on halt. Some of the contractors said it is difficult to work without payment as they have to meet their daily expenses for machinery and other miscellaneous expenditures.
    The farm road construction is funded by the government and Small Development Project under government of India.
    Out of the 16, only three are funded by the government.

    MY SAY:

    This is the third quarter budget status news as of February 19, 2012.

    The Lhuntse Dzongkhag is now left with only 4 months till June- the close of the fiscal year ( 2011-2012).

    A huge Nu. 98 million is still lying as a pending bill – awaiting payments even at the close of the third quarter budget release.

    This incident to me is nothing, but largely represents a true picture of how things normally work under the present bureaucratic hassle driven working environments?

    The farm roads work seems to have been started from September 2011 onwards.

    Why such a delay in receiving the funds?

    On whose courts does the ball actually lie – whether in the MOF or MOAF’s?

    The BBS must find out more by interviewing the concerned authorities on what really prompted this extraordinary delay?

    The nation must be informed accordingly!

    More than anything else, a hard working dzongkhag like Lhuntse mustn’t be discouraged.

    At the same time, a responsibility must be fixed on whose lapses this budget release delay occurred?

  11. I am not worried and concerned by under utilisation of the Budget BUT i am more worried and concerned of the leader who is shocked of such performance. it speaks a lot. In layman’s view, it is like just occupying the chair and attending the inaugurations and workshops…..

    speaking lot during the inaugurations and other ceremonies do not compesate such.

    This is some of truths which is naked but in other times it is always wraped with something positive.

  12. Yesterday at the Youth Unemployment debate, many interesting discussions took place.

    Amongst them, one that was worth hearing relates to the collateral free loan schemes specifically designed for our Bhutanese youth.

    I do not know much about this scheme, but, in this, if implemented earnestly from its true perspectives as reiterated by the labour director, I think, this proposal may one day come out as a very viable solution into addressing the major chunk of the youth related problems.

    From the way how it was presented by the director, it appears that there are adequate attractions packages in place – meaning even if the project fails, the MOLHR is going to bear the 40 % equity and the remaining 60% would be waived off by the banks.

    While, this is a remarkable proposal from the Labour ministry, however, it remains to be seen how such impressive plan gets actually translated into action in the real world.

    At the discussions time, concerns have been raised on the corporate responsibility and other aspects like the loan accessibility difficulties when actually availing them from the banks vis-à-vis present day cumbersome and harsh banking procedures.

    I do not know whether the MOLHR has this agreement with the banks in secured point.

    Otherwise, it is painfully difficult into convincing the rock headed bank officials mainly the CEOs .

    Unless, our bank’s working system are made truly customer friendly, I still hold my reservations when viewed on the sustainability standpoints, given that, how our rogue banks normally conducts their business.

    Therefore, it is of paramount importance that Dawa call this bank CEOs and even people from RMA on his Sunday People’s Voices show.

    Let people question them!

    For private sector to really take strong wings, bringing our blotted and dead banks into real live form is the need of the hour.

    Our banks working system needs to undergo a big overhaul and that too, at the soonest in the interest of the public – if private sector development truly is considered the nation’s priority area.

    All in all, it was a good show.

    The fact that many of the key responsible senior officers being present in the studio as a back-up supports willing to explaining their version of the justifications to the people in itself reflects that the MOLHR is indeed serious with their business. Good Luck- MOLHR!

  13. Agree with Aum Mieko…underspending need not necessarily mean under-performance….getting what needs to be done effectively at the lowest cost possible…now that’s efficiency!!…

    On the other hand, we could spend more than the projected amount yet not complete projects and programs that benefit the communities…that’s inefficiency and not being accountable!!

  14. Chagdo wrote: “I am not worried and concerned by under utilisation of the Budget”

    Chagdo,

    If you are not concerned about the underutilization of the budget, then, in this, it shows that you are here not in complete solidarity with the national building initiative fronts per se, however, on the skewed mission into scoring brownie points largely because of your jealously driven mindset on the sheer pretext that the minister in question having attended many workshop inauguration ceremonies in his capacity as a minister in the recent past.

    This is a bad thinking, please tone down your jealous outlook.

    I think the Bhutanese society is getting more blinded by this jealous menace which risks taking the nation on the destructive path.

    Looks like, we need a teaching lesson under this jealous chapter before it makes a widespread infection to the whole Bhutanese community and costs us dearly in terms of the national growth fronts.

    Budget underutilization issue is indeed a serious matter, for which, I think, he has categorically stated that he will personally look into the matter and bring the responsible officers to task.

    To me, this is a reasonable statement.

    Now, whether or not he lives up to doing the things as stated is something we should wait and see.

    This is a true test for him as a minister and a top man.

    If he doesn’t take action, then, who will and that’s how things should function?

    If the minister is made to do all the routine day to day secretarial and departmental jobs, then, why have the posts like secretaries and directors etc. in our governmental system.

    I do not think we need ornamental posts, but, rather sincere hard working people sitting on such chairs willing to shoulder their responsibilties on their own terms without somebody having to remind them of their duty obligations.

  15. I am 100% agreed with Honorable OL

  16. Misuse of government money should be more shocking and alamrning than underutilization of govt. budget.

    Budget is just a forcast or projection allocated but the misuse is the actual money(cash) that is being drawn out from government exchequer.

    Ofcourse underutilization of budget also warrant accountability because that is what agencies really fight for and pushed for with finance .

  17. Yesterday evening I saw the ending part of the Dawa’s interview with our Dasho Neten Zangmo( re-broadcast session).

    From that brief moment on hearing her, I was deeply moved, how passionately she touched on the real issues confronting ACC in their fight against tackling corruption in our country.

    She was literally on the verge of bursting the bubble and undoubtedly, giving a very strong message across to the whole nation to the point of even coming closer to announcing the closure of the ACC as an office, if, things relating to the Bhutanese laxity culture remains same without support and cooperation from the relevant agencies.

    I could see huge anger, frustrations and helplessness within her when she sought the Bhutanese people’s larger wisdom in defining the term “ Taye Taye Baay”.

    How do we define this new terminology?

    Let’s try to help ACC in interpreting the “Taye Taye Baay” in a more simplified version and see how this “Taye Taye Baay” culture would collectively take Bhutan to its destination of becoming a corruption free nation?

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