The current government’s decision to hand back the government duty Prados and not seek to take them like past ministers will mean a total saving of Nu 102.2 mn for the government exchequer.
This is because the Prime Minister, 10 ministers, Speaker, Thrizin and Opposition Leader are eligible for Prados bringing the total to 14 Prados. With the cabinet’s decision to not take the Prados nobody else will be eligible to take them.
The Prado Model of the ministers are the TX model purchased at Nu 3.5 mn each without sales tax and customs duty but inclusive of a five percent green tax coming to a total of Nu 49 mn.
Furthermore, if the ministers had taken the Prado then the next government would have to replace them with 14 other Prados now costing Nu 3.8 mn each (without taxes) it would have lead to a budgetary implication of Nu 53.2 mn.
Therefore, the total saving from not taking the current lot of Prados and also not having to replace them is Nu 102.2 mn in total.
In 2013 when the former government took 12 Prados (including the the then NC Thrizin) they had been bought at around Nu 3.6 mn each without taxes including a full end Land Cruiser of around Nu 6 mn.
The implication to the exchequer was around Nu 52.8 mn. The Opposition Leader then who is the current Prime Minister had refused to take his Prado and had returned it.
With another Nu 49 mn spent for the replacement of the Prados the total direct revenue implication of the 2013 move to take the Prados and Land Cruiser was Nu 101.8 mn.
In February 2018, the Prime Minister wrote to the RAA to look into the case of 11 Toyota Prados and one Toyota Land Cruiser not returned by DPT ministers. The PM’s letter and an earlier release said that these vehicles had been taken without a Royal Kasho.
Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay in meet-the-press on 30 July 2018 said that the cabinet would be handing back their duty Prados, laptops, printers and all other equipment down to the last pin on finishing their term.
He said that it is important for the current government to set a good precedent for the future.
He said that in the previous government’s term a government order had come in the final days, whereby the then ministers got to keep their duty Prados, laptops, printers and other equipment.
While some critics have dismissed the government’s move saying that the Prados are government property, the trend till date has been for ministers to keep their duty vehicles even well before the introduction of democracy.
Prior to 2008 the then pre-democracy ministers got to keep their duty Toyota Land Cruisers and also additional Toyota Prados for their wives several times over.
There were even past instances of certain vehicles kept in good condition inside garages, while the pool vehicles were used so that ministers could take home almost brand new vehicles.
This trend of taking duty vehicles which continued till 2013 has now finally been broken by this government.
Lyonchhen also announced that the ministers would be moving out of the Minster’s Enclave on 1 August 2018 when the government’s official term finishes.
He said that the mandate received by the current government was for only five years, and so the ministers would not stay a day more than mandated.
Lyonchhen contrasted this with the previous government when the then ministers continued staying in the ministerial enclave during the election period and as a result when they had to move out, it had to be done with great hurry.
The PM pointed out that though the buildings were only four years old at the time, some of them were in a terrible state, and more so because no repairs could be done in the election period.
He said that there was also no proper handing and taking over of the ministerial bungalows, which he said was less than satisfactory.
Lyonchhen also announced that even though the cabinet has to constitutionally continue beyond 1 August until an Interim Government is appointed by Royal Kasho, the cabinet members would stop wearing their Kabneys, and go back to wearing their normal Kabneys.
The National Assembly finished its term on 1 August but the as per the Constitution the cabinet has to continue until an Interim Government is appointed by Royal Kasho within the next 15 days after 1 August.
Lyonchhen said that apart from setting a precedent, it is also about doing what is right.
In 2013 the then ministers kept their Prados. The current Prime Minister who was the then Opposition Leader refused to accept the Prado offered to him through the government order and returned it.
The DPT replied to the PM’s accusations on the Lhengye Densa in a press conference on 31st July.
Former Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu said that they had got clearance from the Department of National Properties to to stay on for the three month election period and they had paid the rent, electric and water bills for that period.
He said that there was proper handing and taking over and items that had been damaged were replaced by them.
Both he and the Opposition Leader expressed disappointment on the statements of the Prime Minister over the ministerial enclave and said that they expected the PM to discuss and focus on much more sublime and substantive issues.