Poor villages

No Shangrila

No Shangrila

Our government estimates that 23.3% of our population live in poverty. And that the incidence of poverty in our villages is significantly higher than in our towns. In fact, the poverty rate in rural Bhutan is 30.9%. That is, almost one in every three of our villagers lives below the poverty line. Compare this to the urban poverty rate of just 1.7%, and it becomes clear that our villages need serious and immediate attention.

But, the amount of money allocated to local governments, and hence to rural Bhutan, for this financial year, again, is negligible. Only 22.8% of the national budget has been earmarked for the dzongkhags. And, a paltry 3.5% has been kept aside for the 205 gewogs. The rest is in the hands of the centre.

The government reasons that much of the money budgeted for the ministries is actually for the villages. They say that roads, schools, hospitals and RNR centres will be built for the villages. I say, let local governments do their own work. And, give them the means – money and people – to do so. After all, they know, better than anyone in Thimphu, what they need. Plus, they, unlike most of us in Thimphu, have a stake in their own progress.

So, if a programme, say school education, benefits only one gewog, let that gewog handle it. If it benefits more than one gewog, let that dzongkhag handle it. The centre, as far as I’m concerned, should be involved only for national-level programmes.

But, look at how this year’s education budget has been allocated. A very generous 17.5% of the entire budget has been earmarked for education. That’s very good. However, none of it – not a single chetrum – will be in the hands of our local government. All Nu 5,309 million will be handled by the centre. That’s not good at all.

This is no way to wage war against poverty. And, at this rate, the scourge will prevail.

The photograph is of Thangdokha, a village in my constituency.

 

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  1. Lobxang says:

    Your photograph touched me. Yes, you are right, most of our rural folks live in poverty.
    Yes, give funds to the local governments to tackle their misery. They alone know best their problems.
    Local governments; invite some experts from the central government to study and identify potential resources and means to improve the livelihood of the people. Get a broader perspective of the issues. Think Sustainability. Keep a proper check and balance that the funds are used in the right direction. Auditing and sending people to jail after everything is done and stolen is a waste of time. Steer the work in the right direction from the very beginning and there won’t be corruption.
    Wake up villagers, a handful of doma soelrey from the visiting Dashos aren’t enough kidu. Wake up and ask for what you deserve. If the Country generates immense revenue from Hydropower projects, you have your share in there too. Not just Thimphu, Paro, Punakha or Phuntsholing.

    • Pumping in money just for the sake of giving them autonomy, despite knowing the realities, would be a stupid thing to do. I sometimes feel that honorable LO speaks for the sake of saying only. He seems to miss sense.

      Only one point; Do our gewogs/ dzongkhags have the the required capacity to carry out projects? I think we need to ask this question even at the center…

  2. Lobxang says:

    …. And oh, hey…
    Why not implement some form of Local Taxation System..(You know the term best).
    Let’s say, there’s a revenue generating project in a locality. Why not levy a certain percentage of tax on that project for the devolvement of that locality and the vicinity?

  3. dorji thongja says:

    The photo given here brings fresh memories of the kind of life people live in the different remote villages of our country. Having visited some villages in lower Zhemgang I have understood what poverty means. There is no need to talk about poverty, the reality speaks. I hope when Agriculture team visited Zhemgang they brought pictures back to Thimphu to show to others. I would suggest OL visit some parts of Zhemgang. We need to do something there before we talk of pay hikes and patangs in Thimphu.

  4. kuzuzangpo la opposition leader,
    i have always been your supporter of your ideas and the strength which you show in political arena as one man army.poverty is inevitable when government transforms to democracy. and if not taken care and given proper importance democracy can be short lived.leaders can play the maximum role to overcome this human phenomena.and what i believe is PDP can rescue bhutan from severity of this human disaster.
    PDP for me is a political party backed by strong business firm(singye group of companies).there is way to prevent our nation from extreme poverty,bring PDP as a ruling regime and make bhutan economically self reliant nation.
    this, PDP can make it possible. business is all about profit making activity but when this activity is carried to improve human life this becomes dharma. as singye group of companies emerging as a business power they can bring new industries in rural area. for eg like factory for all the small products for which we dont have to bank on india. this way we can gain economic reliance and also we can curb rural urban migration and balance develoment will gradually start.
    mark my word OL. you do what i say, u will achieve what you and your party aspire. this at the end will make our King, country and people happy.
    thank you

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