During the second Qestion and Answer parliamentary session, two questions were raised against the Finance Minister Namgay Tshering on whether it was legal to use the general reserve funds for development of gewogs in Finance minister’s own constituency. The general reserve funds are reserved for meeting unforeseen, unavoidable and unexpected future expenditure or financial obligations that may arise during the financial year.
“The finance minister has used Nu.19 million from the GRF for his own dzongkhag and constituency which is against the constitution as well as Public finance act and Finance regulations. Out of 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs, is Paro perhaps falling behind other dzongkhags that it urgently needs dire financial support? That is clearly a misuse of power. Would the minister like to clarify if the uncalled use of GRF sets a good example and what consequences (harmful or helpful) it will have in the future?”said MP Norbu Wangzom of Jomotshangkha Martshala constituency.
To which the finance minister replied that as per article 14 section 3 of the constitution, public money cannot be withdrawn from consolidated account except in accordance to the law, i.e, in accordance to Public Finance Act and Financial Rules and Regulation. The GRF, according to Lyonpo, is part of annual budget approved by the parliament.
“If I remember correctly, everyone (100 percent of the members) voted to approve the development of Paro dzongkhag in the Parliamentary session five months ago,” Lyonpo explained.
Lyonpo also added that such accusations for the sake of politics could seriously hinder the harmony and peace of the country. “As per article 18 clause 2 of the constitution, the responsibility of the Opposition party is to not only oppose the ruling party but also to help keep harmony and unity in the country,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo added that in the fiscal year 2020-2021 supplementary budget of Nu.30M was allocated to Zhemgang dzongkhag despite already being allocated a budget of Nu.43 million. Not only that but the previous government has utilized Nu.55 million solely for the entertainment and hospitality of Lyonchhen and Cabinet ministers which is not better than what Lyonpo has been doing for the development of Paro dzongkhag.
Lyonpo insisted that he had not broken either of the financial rules or the act and if there existed any separate law that he failed to comply with, then pray tell him.