Mandate for surface collection of sand and stones under review by OAG
Representing Lyonchhen during the Friday meet the press session on Friday, the agriculture minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor shared three important outcomes from the 6th session of the Lhengye Zhungtshog which includes total budget outlay for the first year of the 12th FYP, annual grant for local government and the issues surrounding the surface collection of sand and stones.
For the first year of the 12th FYP which commenced from a total of Nu 47 bn has been allocated for the rest of the six months. Of the total Nu.47 bn outlay, Nu. 29 bn will be allocated for recurrent expenditure and Nu.18 for the capital expenditure. The cabinet has asked the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to present the budget outlay for the first year of the plan during the first sitting of the third parliament on 1st January 2019.
In the 12th FYP, Annual Grant will supersede the erstwhile Gewog Development Grant and unlike the former practice, the Local Government (LG) leaders will not have to come all the way to the capital for their annual budget discussion.
“Since it is time consuming for the LG leaders to assemble to the capital all the way from their respective Gewogs, the Ministry of Finance will release the budget on quarterly basis for the LG development based on their proposal,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor.
From the total budget outlay of Nu.310bn for the 12th Plan, Lyonpo Yeshey informed that around 50 percent will be allocated for the development activities of the local government. The cabinet has asked the finance ministry to study and explore ways for judicious utilization of the annual grant for grassroots governance.
The cabinet has also asked the finance ministry to allocate majority of the budget for the first two years of the 12th FYP (2019-20, 2020-21) in order to achieve optimum outcomes.
Another outcome from the 6th session of the Lhengye Zhungtshog, as disclosed by the agriculture minister has been on the surface collection of sand and stones.
“As aware, private entities have been showing immense interest in the surface collection of sand and stones and dredging along the river banks, and at the same time, there has been periodic conflict between the various regulatory agencies.
The department of geology and mines claim that it is their mandate to look after the surface collection of sand and stones, while Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry feels that the responsibility falls under their mandate.”
The department of geology and mines under the economics ministry has appealed to the government to be given them a clear mandate to look after the surface collection and dredging of sands and stones. However, as per the forest and nature conservation rules of Bhutan 1995, the mandate falls under the forest department of MoAF, said the agriculture minister. The issue has been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to study the legal rights on the matter as per the instructions from the cabinet.