The Question hour also saw questions from the Opposition on the 100 days pledges and the Local Government Entitlements Act
The Prime Minister said that there are no major changes in the 11thfive year plan as well any decrease in the total budget for the plan except for integrating their pledges into the plan.
This was in response to a question from the Opposition Leader Dr. Pema Gyamtsho who questioned the Prime minister about whether the 11th FYP was revised and downsized in terms of its content as well as the budget. He asked if whether the overall goal of achieving self-reliance by 2020 and reducing poverty to 5% during the 11th FYP would be achieved.
The Opposition Leader also asked whether the government has received the resources committed by development partners and if so from whom and how much, and whether the terms and conditions for receiving grant aid and loans with different bilateral and multilateral agencies have been changed.
The Prime Minister said that the first few months of the 11th Plan have yielded more results as compared to the last few months of the 10th Plan.
Prime Minister said one doubt was if the 11th five year plan has been already made. “If we look at it from one side it is true, the plan has been made by local government representative, civil servants, and DPT government.”
“We have not changed the work which has been done by the representatives from the local government for months and year. What we have changed is that the pledges that we have made have been included in the plan. This plan is not made only by the DPT and PDP. It is our national goal,” said the PM.
He said that was no change in the overall budget for the 11th FYP and it stands at 213bn as approved by the parliament.
“We have also not changed the goal to achieve self reliance, we are also working towards it and we are working towards it in such a manner that it does not benefit only one or two people but all people,” said the PM.
“There are only 12% of people stated to be living under poverty and so at present we have circulated a letter in every dzongkhag to identify people who are living under poverty. Our country is very small and we can find out the people actually living under poverty and decrease it further more,” he added.
He said that the government will give the people livelihood opportunities in order to reduce the gap between people. He said that in the 11th FYP, there would be an extra effort towards private sector development.
It was also informed that a National Competitiveness Council will be established to boost the private sector and the Economic Stimulus Plan would be implemented once the Parliament grants approval.
“The countries and agencies who have agreed to help us before the Round Table Meeting had agreed to give Nu 58 bn but after the meeting it they agreed to give Nu 66 bn. The Indian government has also agreed Nu 5 bn for the Economic Stimulus Plan and when we add all this it comes to around 71 bn. These are not debt this are all aid,” the PM said
It was also informed that general terms and conditions for receiving grants and loans have not been changed by the present government. However, it was conveyed to the House that the Royal Government would contribute 10% as partner contribution amounting to Nu.2.8 Billion on the project tied assistance support from the Government of India. “This would symbolize the projects being jointly undertaken by the governments of India and Bhutan” said the Prime Minister.
Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi asked to Prime Minister about the government has stated that it has fulfilled around 74% of its pledges within the stipulated time. He asked, “Can you explain to us in categorical and concrete terms the most significant benefits you think the people and country have received from your 100 day pledges? Are all those really happening or benefitting the people?”
The Prime Minister said, “It is important for people to understand how our pledges have benefited people. 74 have been achieved and on 24 we are continuing our work and from the pledges that are work in progress. One is the maternity leave for 9 months which we have considered as flexible time. We have forwarded this to the RCSC.”
He also briefed on benefits from fulfillment of government pledges to different sections of society like the youth, rural households, senior citizens and many others.
He said that pledges like providing allowance to senior citizens, constructing old age homes and addressing citizenship issues were the royal prerogatives of the His Majesty the King. The government is therefore in consultation with the office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon.
Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi asked what was the status of the much anticipated and important local Government Entitlement bill and when was it going to be tabled.
Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs, Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji said that the Local government is one of the most important organizations but there is no proper provision which supports the local government’s entitlement.
He informed the House that consultations were held with the Local Government on the Bill which was extensively deliberated in the DYT and GYT before collecting their opinions. The Minster informed that the new Bill has been drafted based on these opinions and the Parliamentary Entitlements Act as the Members of the Local Government were also elected by the people.
It was also informed that the Bill would be tabled in the current session and referred to a relevant committee for deliberations in the next session.