No budget for rural maternity allowance but will implement: PM

The Prime Minister Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that the government will implement its pledge to give maternity allowances to rural women despite the criticism surrounding the issue and the lack of a budget head for the pledge.

He, however, clarified that only those rural mothers who gave birth in a Bhutanese hospital and those who bring their babies for the scheduled twice a month check ups.

Explaining the reasoning behind the pledge the PM said that even today women give birth at homes which lead to death of the mother or child, bleeding, brain damage and there was no post delivery follow up.

Lyonchhen said that mothers come to the hospital only when the child is very sick and by then at times it is too late.

He also pointed out that pregnant mothers also do not do regular check ups and come only when there is some problem.

The PM said that the Ministry of Health is only able to achieve 75 to 80 percent penetration when it should be 100 percent.

He elaborated that the allowance would help mothers to meet the requirement of the new born babies and that this would result in a long term impact.

“You all should ask a woman working on the roadside keeping her new born baby in the shade. I am sure the mother will want time to properly breast feed and take care of her baby and the baby, if he could speak, will want the same,” said the PM.

Lyonchhen said given the importance of the pledge the government will not throw it down the drain but will secure resources as the 12th plan does not have budget for it.

He said it is pointless for a new government to come in if only the same plan is to be implemented. He said that the pledges have to have some excitement and a wow factor.

Lyonchhen said that the even with the current plan the budget deficit is already 29 bn and the Mangdechu tariff is yet to be finalized. He said he said that thinking about where the money will come for the allowance is good reason to lose sleep.

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