Opposition asks about SDF in border towns, regularization of contract workers and pledges

In a press release issued on 30th April the Opposition Party while acknowledging the progress made by the new Lhengye Zhungtshog in fulfilling of pledges such as the waiver of pedestrian fees at the Phuentsholing Pedestrian Terminal, establishment of the Economic Development Board (EDB) with the Prime Minister as Chairperson, decision on residents of Changjiji colony to occupy the apartments until their retirement and establishment of a high-powered task force to develop the implementation plan for Nu 15 billion economic stimulus program (ESP), the Opposition Party note a slow pace of implementation in other pledges.

It said that despite more than 90 days since inception of the government, the tangible development of the remaining nine pledges remains pending.

First was on making Saturdays ‘off-days’ for teachers and students. However, here the Prime Minister announced a Saturday off on 2nd May on Teachers Day.

Second was to Commission a comprehensive review of the business regulatory processes including at the exit and entry gateways; including requirement of the review to be submitted in three months with concrete recommendations to remove all barriers and ease the conduct of the businesses.

Third was to instruct relevant agencies to revise the FDI policy 2019, to make it business friendly and to attract FDIs in large numbers, including FDI in small and medium sectors.

Fourth is to instruct the Ministry of Education and Skills Development to review the IWP and develop a performance measurement system specific to the needs of the teachers in consultation with the Royal Civil Service Commission.

Fifth is to review the SDF regulation for tourists in the southern border towns to explore possibility of allowing tourists within the bordering towns without the levy of SDF.

Sixth is to issue office order to all the Bhutanese embassies abroad to submit recommendations and ideas on how the embassy can promote inbound tourists to Bhutan.

Seventh is to issue office order to relevant agencies for developing a separate action plan to achieve inbound tourist number to 300,000 annually. The plan may include reviewing of the SDF and any other regulatory processes that needs to be changed. The plan should be developed in consultation with all tourism stakeholders.

Eight is to establish a sub-committee of Lhengye Zhungtshog with working members from relevant agencies to work on regularization of contract employees.

Ninth is to instruct relevant agencies to undertake feasibility study for the construction of five airstrips in strategic locations across the country.

The Opposition Party said it ardently believes that transparency and information dissemination are integral components of good governance and Bhutan’s continued transition to a vibrant democracy. As elected members of the parliament and thus representatives of the people, the government and the opposition are accountable to the people and it is their responsibility to keep people informed of developments. Thus, it called upon the government to update the implementation status of the above-mentioned pledges (damchas) to all concerned stakeholders particularly the public.

Further, the Opposition Party specifically drew attention on decisions of the following pledges (damchas), which could have been implemented by now.

Declaration of Saturdays as off days for teachers and students (which is now implemented); Regularization of contract employees; and Review of the SDF regulation for tourists in the southern border towns to explore possibility of allowing tourists within the bordering towns to visit without the levy of SDF.

The Opposition Party said it extends its steadfast commitment to providing constructive support to the government, both within the hallowed halls of Parliament and beyond, in the pursuit of collective progress and prosperity.

It said, it cannot overlook the crucial importance of maintaining the integrity of promises made by the parties.

“Indeed, the failure to uphold and fulfil these pledges undermines the very foundation of trust, casting a shadow not only on the government but on the broader concept of governance itself.

In light of our accountability to the citizenry, we urge the government to engage in transparent communication with all relevant stakeholders, and the people. It is imperative that the status of the aforementioned pledges (damchas), be disseminated openly and comprehensively to the Bhutanese populace,” said the party.

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