In the last one week, the Prime Minister had reviewed annual performance agreement ministries and agencies signed with the government.
What came out from most of the reviews was that it has to be reviewed. The performance agreement is a good idea to remind us of our priorities, especially to the bureaucrats who are implementing the plans and policies of the government of the day. It is a tool to keep an eye on our planned activities. When agreed and followed sincerely, it will improve efficiency and service delivery.
Listing activities that are easily doable or that forms daily responsibilities is not the intent. The intent goes beyond what officials, agencies or ministries are targeting to achieve at the end of a fiscal year and ultimately after the end of a Plan period.
APA is a good system. Derived from corporate governance system, it keeps all on toes. The PM signs an APA with the minister, the minister with his secretary and it goes on to individuals. At the end, every performance is measured. The problem is when the targets are set easy or set just for the sake of setting and every body gets good mark.
For instance, it is the responsibility of the thromde to fill potholes. In fact, to ensure there are no potholes. If the APA is calling for innovation, there is none in the construction of a new secretariat building or a BHU or filling potholes. These are capital works included in the Plan. If there is budget, it will be done, if there isn’t the marks will be not deducted, as lack of budget will be the excuse.
Making easy targets will not make a difference except in reflecting 100 percent achievement on the paper. This is what the government or the Prime Minister doesn’t want.
The APA is not new. We have learnt the lessons. Both the ruling government and the bureaucrats know the intent. They have learnt the lesson too. For instance, in the past, one dzongkhag reflected pisciculture as an activity. The plan flopped as villagers were against rearing fish for consumption. You can’t force villagers to rear pigs if it is against their belief just because you agreed to do so.
In the interest of governments bulldozing their plans and show success on papers, a lot of agreements, some unreasonable are signed. That is not what APA is trying to achieve. Every agreement should be supported by logic and strategies. There should be new ideas and ways and means to convince how people would be benefited with the limited resources and how best practices would be followed.
At the on-going review of APAs, the highlight of the 12th Plan, coordination, collaboration and consolidation are found missing in some ministries or agencies. The central agency of job creation is the labour ministry. Ministries or agencies should coordinate with the labour ministry and share possible strategies of job creation even as they take their own mandate.
Like the PM said, the APA signing should not be a ceremony in front of the media. There is a purpose, an important one, and it should be achieved.