During the question-hour session of National Assembly yesterday, Drametse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi shared concerns regarding the Prime Minister’s residence being left unoccupied by the incumbent and the former Prime Minster, which was constructed at a huge cost and with tight security service..
MP Ugyen Wangdi said that having built such an expensive house, the PM, present and past, did not reside in the house, choosing to reside in their private homes instead.
According to him, such a decision by the prime minister is incurring extra expenditure as security services has to be arranged at their private homes.
Hence, the MP asked the Finance Minister if any specific provision allows for such conveniences for the Cabinet Ministers and Prime Minister. And if not, the MP asked if there is an appropriate policy to avoid the problem in the future.
Without a strong provision, the MP said, that it will set a precedent and all elected Prime Ministers, will reside in their private homes, and exploit the government’s budget in constructing security amenities.
Following the question, the Finance Minister Namgay Dorji clarified that so far there is no policy in place which allow for such prerogatives.
Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said that all the elected leaders including the Prime Minster, Cabinet Ministers, Opposition Leader, and Chairperson are endowed with a residence each.
Lyonpo said that the Prime Minster declined to occupy the residence since the country does not have a state owned guest house after the Kuengachholing guest house required major renovation.
Lyonpo said that the Prime Minister’s residence was turned into a State Guest House where important state meetings are being conducted and Royal Guests and other VIPs are being hosted.
However, the Finance Minister said that, as of now, there is no plan to come up with any provision, but the government needs to either construct a separate State Guest house or if not then construct a Prime Minister’s residence.
Lyonpo shared that the incumbent Prime Minister has not only declined to occupy the residence, but also denied security personnel. He said that the Chief of Police had personally recommended in allocating bodyguards as per the Prime Minister’s entitlement but he has taken far less than what he is entitled to.
Meanwhile, in regard to the construction of wall for security purpose, Lyonpo said that the decision to construct the wall around the Prime Minister’s private home happened without the Prime Minister’s consent while he was on dzongkhag visit.
Lyonpo said that in the case of the previous Prime Minister, security services, like building 30 homes for security personnel were done by the government. Since such propensity exists in the past and even now, Lyonpo said that similar security amenities were also provided to the incumbent.
As per the security point of view, RBP required such a wall to be constructed as the Prime Minister’s residence was open and unsafe.
“After discussion with the RBP, we planned to construct the security wall when the PM was away,” Lyonpo said. He added that the Prime Minster was unhappy about the decision.
However, Lyonpo said that for the future Prime Minister, similar privileges shall not be extended once the government builds a separate State Guest House, and bestow the present State Guest House to the Prime Minister.