If the remains of incomplete pledges and economic goof troubled the former ruling party, same goes for the challenging party and its magnitude of pledges, which becomes a point to pick at in every public forum.
The Rupee crisis, national debt, and foreign relations are the bold topics thrashed out at the North Thimphu common forum where the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) offered its justifications, while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate had to also slog through to clarify and give justification to some of the party’s more ambitious pledges that are constantly put up for the questioning by the inquisitive electorate.
The DPT candidate Kinga Tshering and PDP candidate Sangay Tshoki started the forum by thanking the people for their supports in the primary round of elections. With this ‘easy part’ out of the way candidates proceeded to answer the burning questions.
Offering his clarification on the accumulated national debt, the DPT candidate said the debt was incurred due to the construction of hydropower projects and farm roads.
He said government has spent 54% the budget for the construction of hydropower projects, construction of new schools and maintenance of existing old schools; 20% to reduce Rupee crisis, and 12% for rural electrification and setting up of Dungsam cement plant.
In addition, DPT had invested in the water supply schemes and farm roads. Hydropower was stated as the most important achievement under the DPT government.
“Hydropower is our wealth and main backbone of Bhutan, and to enjoy absolute self-reliance,” said Kinga Tshering.
The DPT’s main areas of attention are on self-sufficiency and national security, which means keeping diplomatic relations with foreign countries and construction and blacktopping of farm roads if budget is available.
“Diplomatic relationship with 52 countries will be more helpful, and if re-elected DPT will continuously work on hydropower, tourism industry, and private sector development,” Kinga Tshering said.
“We should trust each other and everything should be done together to get fruitful democracy. You (voters) are the highest and most powerful in a democracy, and if elected
candidates don’t fulfill your expectation then don’t vote for him/her.”
Defending her party pledges, PDP candidate Sangay Tshoki said the popular pledges on helicopters and student loans are doable, and are planned well, such as the loans having protection from unforeseen contingencies like, death.
“We have to insure with the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan (RICBL), and there will be no problem, and buying of two helicopters is not a problem,” she said.
Sangay Tshoki said other than that, the people in constituency don’t have big expectations as they aspire for very doable and small developmental works like black-topping roads, enough water supplies, etc.
“I think it is possible and easy to fulfill,” she added.
The PDP candidate talked about ‘Wangtse Chhirpel’, the party ideology which aims to empower people with liberty, equality and prosperity, by devolving power and authority
from the centre (empowering local government). She added if country should prosper then we need to increase the salary and provide 20% allowance for house rent to the civil servants and give employment to the youth and encourage private sectors.
On Bhutan-India relationship she said, Bhutan should make good use of it and maintain the good relations. She said if the Bhutan-India relationship is affected then there will be big problems for Bhutan.
Clarifying on the earlier accusations that PDP was responsible for creating misunderstandings between two countries, she said, “We are not making misunderstanding, but informing that it’s going wrong.”
The two candidates urged the people to vote wisely and carefully during the general round. Both the candidates reminded the public that every vote counts and their decision will lead to the formation of a new government.