Economic and Finance Committee of the National Assembly constituting of 13 members headed by Athang Thedtsho MP, Kinley Wangchuk, presented 18 recommendations on the National Budget after observations on 12 June. The committee reviewed the budget reports in keeping with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Public Finance Act, National Assembly (Amendment) 2014 and the Terms of Reference of the Committee 2018.
The deliberation continued till yesterday until the Bill was finally adopted and the decision to further send it to the National Council was made.
The 18 recommendations included jobless growth, trajectory of recurrent and capital expenditures, goods and services tax, common minimum infrastructure, scholarship for the students in class 11-12, rural enterprise development corporation limited, electric vehicles, budget of the National Assembly of Bhutan, HRD budget allocation from RGOB fund, report on monetary policies and system, allocation to local governments, general reserve budget, dzongkhag development grant, allocation to tourism sector, digital Drukyul, annual budget of state owned enterprises, performance and governance of state owned enterprises and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
However, out of these 18 recommendations put up by the committee, few recommendations were rejected including scholarship for the students in class 11-12, budget of the National Assembly of Bhutan and HRD budget allocation from RGOB fund.
The committee observed that the budget of Nu 247.065 million (mn) provisioned for providing scholarship to the class X passed students starting from the academic year 2019, although found commendable in terms of human capacity development, but from the economic point of view, it was found to be unsustainable and imprudent expenditure, so therefore, recommended the education ministry to develop a proper admission and scholarship guidelines in private schools as well as the ministry to share its sustainability program which was rejected by the House.
The other recommendation which was not endorsed is the budget of the National Assembly of Bhutan, whereupon the committee recommended reinstating recurrent budget of Nu 11.64 mn and capital budget of Nu 0.648 mn from the total slashed amount of Nu 17.43 mn of the National Assembly of Bhutan after the committee observed that a total of Nu 17.43 mn pertaining to discharge of core parliamentary functions and ongoing activities have been slashed from the proposed budget of the National Assembly of Bhutan which appeared as it was not keeping with section 7(e) of the Public Finance Act, which requires not to compromise critical activities.
The finance minister also did not approve the recommendation, along with 32 parliamentarians rejected the recommendation whereas 11 NA members supported it.
As for the recommendation to HRD budget allocation from RGOB fund, the committee recommended slashing the budget proposals of the 3 budgetary bodies; namely Judiciary, Anti-Corruption Commission and Royal Audit Authority. The committee advised the ministry of finance to uniformly apply budgeting norms and policies to all budgetary bodies in the future. Nevertheless, since only 11 parliamentarians supported the recommendation and so it could not be passed.
The committee recommended slashing the proposed budget of Nu. 10.50 million in FY 2019-20. However, many of the members shared their concerns and rejected the committee’s recommendation as they felt that there was a need to implement strict rules and regulations for BCCI. The committee in the revised recommendation proposed to register BCCI as mutual benefit organization under CSO Act. However, there was no support the recommendations so finally the House decided to support BCCI with strict rules and regulations in place.
Motion put up by the finance minister for the adoption of the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2018-19 and adoption of the Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2019-20 was also approved by the Parliamentarians of the National assembly. The Bill will now be passed to National Council for deliberation.