MoF slashes short-term trainings and consultancy budget by Nu 1.4 bn

If the two most wasteful budget heads can be identified under the annual budget head of the government then they would probably be the short term trainings or conferences in luxury hotels in Paro and Punakha where the outcome is usually questionable, and also the endless number of consultants hired for consultancies, only for the reports to gather dust on shelves.

A closer look at the 2022-2023 Financial Year Annual Budget shows a massive cut in both these budgets compared to the 2021-2022 budget.

In 2021-2022 agencies ended up spending Nu 2.993 billion (bn) on ‘trainings-others’ which is short term trainings, seminars, conferences, workshops etc and Nu 2.280 bn on professional services or ‘consultancies.’

The grand total was Nu 5.273 bn.

In the 2022-2023 budget there was a realization of the sheer waste in these two sectors and so for training it has been reduced to Nu 2.094 bn and for consultancies to Nu 1.742 bn which is a total of Nu 3.836 bn.

The reduction is a massive Nu 1.437 bn or 27.2 percent.

An official said that the cuts along with others had been made to not only save on unnecessary expenditure, but also change the thinking and behavior of civil servants.

The cuts have not only been made in RGoB fund projects but also in grant projects for the above two areas. For example, a lot of cuts have been made to such lucrative Paro and Punakha training programs and others proposed by the UN agencies in Bhutan.

The official said, “We cannot get into a mentality where such programs funded by grants are taken as a Thobthangs and when they they are not there then civil servants say they feel demotivated. They were never entitled to such things in the first place.”

To cut these two main flabs of the government budget, the Ministry of Finance first sent out directions asking agencies to cut which many did, but those who did not want to discussed it in the budget meetings with the MoF. In some cases, the MoF took the top down approach to make cuts.

 Apart from the above, a major savings being made is also on food. The official said that earlier whenever there was government meetings lunch and snacks was provided, but this does not make sense as people anyhow bring packed lunch or have to eat lunch.

The MoF even declined to provide an additional Nu 1 mn budget demanded for the MPs lunch.

One more area of savings is learning from the pandemic experience of using online web meetings and communicating via email and phone.

The MoF just a few days before had a virtual meeting with around 300 plus budget related officials in 20 Dzongkhags.

In other times MoF officials would travel to the Dzongkhags, there would be TA/DA, lunches, dinners, high tea etc and other expenses and it would take a long time.

Therefore, all government agencies are encouraged to hold virtual meetings to save on travel and also save on meals.

Trainings are to be conducted in Thimphu or the respective Dzongkhags. “An excuse often given is that people do not come otherwise but then the outcome of such trainings must also be questioned,” said the official.

Another major area where there will be saving will be on TA/DA. Henceforth, the Nu 2,000 DSA will no longer be given for in country trainings since this is a skill up gradation being provided for free.

Apart from that, TA/DA for trainings will be given only for those coming from another Dzongkhags and will not be given for those from the same Dzongkhag.

The concept for of half day DSA for traveling to Paro and back even while dropping officers to the airport or for a short trip will not be entertained.

In terms of table tours or collecting TA/DA and DSA for not traveling it will be an issue of accountability and the chiefs or heads allowing this will be held accountable.

A running joke now is of some civil servants not able to pay loans to NPPF on time complaining that they are not getting enough TA/DA.

Apart from the above, a recent budget notification from the MoF has asked agencies to rationalize travels, not hire private buildings for office space, postpone salary indexation, transfer civil servants without benefits, defer monetization of vehicle quota and that no additional current budget will be entertained.

On the capital budget front, supplementary incorporation of funds to areas like construction or major renovation of offices, procurement of pool vehicles, trainings and seminars, consultancies, procurement of furniture, computers, equipment etc are not to happen without permission from the government or the cabinet.

At the same time there are to be no new posts, ad-hoc activities to be met from the approved budget and non essential imports are not to happen. HRD trainings are only for critical areas approved by RCSC.

There is to be centralized procurement of ICT equipment and payment of internet charges through DITT.

In order to ensure there is no rush of spending during the last quarter of the financial year and to maintain quality of expenditure all budgetary bodies have to initiate the Annual Procurement Plan and complete all tendering processes by the second quarter of the financial year.

Budgetary agencies are also advised to avoid cost and time overruns and minimize them through the timely implementation of activities.  

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One comment

  1. I came on order from Gasa to Nganglam spending almost Nu. 50000. Transfer is something where no one can manipulate on the money spent. 50k is something beyond my capability of savings. I borrowed the money. What’s happening now? Why the sudden change? What happened to the notification regarding the Grant to be given on 2022-2023 finencial year?

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