Annual Budget Report presentation draws discussions on PDP Pledges

The National Budget report presented by Finance Minister Namgay Dorji for the fiscal year 2013-2014 to the National Assembly (NA) sparked discussions on the pledges made by the present government with Opposition members expressing doubts over the issue.

Opposition MP Dorji Wangdi said the former government’s debt was discussed at every common forum by the present government and he said looking at the report, the report shows the debt level going up each year and doesn’t indicate any measures to address the debt issue.

Pledges made by the present government like pay hike, annual grant of Nu. 2mn to every gewog, unemployment allowance, education loan, constructions of new farm roads and making existing farm roads motorable in all 205 gewogs, helicopters, Food Cooperation of Bhutan (FCBs) and so on were questioned by the Opposition members saying specific budget for the pledges has not been reflected in the report.

Former finance minister and Bartsham-Shongphu candidate MP Wangdi Norbu made almost an hour’s presentation with regards the report starting from employment generation where he questioned the government of how employment generation would advance with reduced budget allocated to the labour ministry.

On the INR shortfall, MP Wangdi said the resource deficit was NU 4.32bn as compared with NU 0.21bn in the 2012-2013 fiscal years. He explained the deficit would put additional burden on the banking system’s liquidity besides fuelling further imports.

Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said the former government’s debt which was around Nu. 95bn is much higher and said the present government taking up office has been just a month and has the additional task of working on the previous government’s work which has already been started.

“Because of debt getting exceeded, activities like developmental works, hydropower works and so on cannot be kept on hold,” he said.

In the budget report presented for 2013-2014, he said the debt could amount to more than Nu. 1mn.

In response to the fulfillment of pledges like salaries, allowances and other entitlements for the civil servants, Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said the government had five years to work on it.

“We will make sure we fulfill all our pledges, but so far it has just been seven weeks since this government took office,” he said.

It was resolved the house would direct for the immediate institution of the Pay Commission for the entitlements and to report the recommendations in the next session of the Parliament. However, the national budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 has been passed by the house at NU 34bn with prime focus on growth stimulation, employment generation and addressing the INR crisis.

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