Questioning change

Managing markets

Managing markets

So the Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to take over the Centenary Farmers’ Market. Apparently the Cabinet had decided that the Thimphu City Corporation was not managing the farmers’ market properly.

The government’s intention is good. They want to ensure that the farmers’ market is well managed; that it is hygienic; and that it benefits our farmers.

But the implications are not good. The government risks undermining local government. Accepted, the Thimphu City Corporation may not have done a good enough job managing the farmers’ market. But that is precisely why they need to be supported. And their capacity strengthened. Instead, the government has decided that the city corporation is unable to manage the farmers’ market.

If local governments fall short, we must support them. We must build their capacities so that they can discharge their duties properly. The most damaging thing we can do is to take away their responsibilities. That amounts to centralization. And that, regardless of intentions, is not good for local governments. And what’s not good for local governments, is not good for our democracy.