The Opposition party Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) has issued a review of the government’s report on its first 100 days in office. This comes six days after the government claimed of having achieved 74 % of its pledges to be delivered at a press conference on November 9.
Save for nine partially fulfilled pledges, the government maintained to have fulfilled 25 of its 34 pledges. However, the Opposition revealed that nine of the 42 pledges have been fulfilled.
“The government has claimed that it has fulfilled 25 of its 34 pledges or 74% of its pledges for the first 100 days. The Opposition’s assessment is that only 9 pledges have been fulfilled out of the actually 42 pledges made by the government for the first 100 days. This brings the fulfillment rate to 21.4% instead of 74%,” stated the post.
Opposition leader (OL) Dr Pema Gyamtsho told The Bhutanese that the review has been conducted by a special committee formed by the party to assess the government’s report.
“We have done our homework, a thorough research to not necessarily criticize the government, but basically putting forward our concern and opinion as the Opposition,” the OL said.
Asked if the matter would be brought up in the second session of the current Parliament, he said the Opposition is not much worried of the short-term or the 100 days, but is concerned of the long- term and the government’s performance over time in serving the people.
The DPT highlighted that some of the pledges claimed to have been fulfilled are those, which have already been in existence such as the student discounts for travel, private sector development policy, or carrying out a poverty survey, or have been fulfilled as a result of lifting existing policies like that of the pedestrian day among others.
“Quite a few are just activity check list like drafting film policy, daily minimum wage, writing/discussing with RCSC on the exams, and the maternity leave. Some activities like doing away with the taxes, or capping the number of taxis, and lifting vehicle ban for rural areas cannot be taken as fulfilled since required procedures like the approval of the Parliament or issue of ordinance by the government has not been done as yet,” stated the party release.
“As a responsible Opposition with our sacred duty, instead of arguing on the activity checklist of the 100 days, we would rather that the government comes out with a clear policy and game plan of how to take our country forward and achieve self reliance by 2020. Therefore, we would like to request the government to really focus on some of the following key crucial issues,” the party stated in its review.
The key issues that the Opposition is asking the government to focus on are the Indian Rupee (INR) shortfall, the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP), preliminary exam for the RCSC, electricity tariff & free supply to the rural households, austerity measures, RTI and the Tenancy Act revision and prioritizing the census issue.
On the Indian Rupee (INR) shortfall, the Opposition questioned that the government’s promise of setting up an economic advisory board hasn’t been fulfilled. The Opposition questioned, “Where is the board and what is being done on the rupee crunch?”
“Instead of discouraging imports, the government has been very actively encouraging imports by hosting trade fairs. The fiscal policy is set at highly expansionary one and the budget deficit too has been set at an extremely high amount of Nu 4.325bn, which will put additional pressure on the INR reserves. On the other hand, the electricity tariffs have been raised for the industries. This will further worsen the situation by making the export industries and import-substituting industries unviable. Unless there is some brilliant, hitherto unknown, macro-economic thinking in these measures, it is devoid of all logic,” the Opposition has stated.
The Opposition also raised concerns on the government’s ESP, and that neither the plan nor the injection of funds into the financial market has taken place. It also rebutted on the government’s stand on the electricity tariff & free supply to the rural households calling it pork barrel politics, and so were the austerity measures, Right to Information (RTI) and the Tenancy Act revision and census issues among others, according to the Opposition.
The fulfilled pledges as listed out in the DPT’s review include initiation of a meet-the-people program, revision the national minimum wage rate, tabling the RTI Bill in Parliament, lifting the pedestrian day rule, introduction of an annual grant of Nu 0.2mn for every gewog, free electricity to rural households, establishment of endowment funds, drafting a national film policy and introduction of a social media wing.
On the other hand, the Opposition has drawn a long list of 33 unfulfilled pledges starting from the 20% house rent for civil servants to availing long-term soft loans from SEDF, ADB, and the World Bank.
Others in the DPT’s “unfulfilled pledges” list of the government include lifting the vehicle import ban for rural businesses and farmers to let them buy utility vehicles to facilitate rural development, starting negotiation with the relevant state governments of India to restart the Bhutan lottery business, full employment for youth, initiation of a youth employment policy and draft legislation to ensure 20% quota for women in all elected offices.
More in the list are promotion of meritocracy in the civil service, initiation of scholarships in prestigious international universities for civil servants, revision of nutrition level of food given to students in boarding schools, addressing the issue of doctor shortage and developing a strategy to promote import substitute products within the country.
Pledges which the government claimed of having fulfilled , such as introducing designated seats in public transport for senior citizens, pregnant women, mothers with toddlers, and people with special needs, forming a pay commission and doing away with taxes for small and rural businesses among others, has been reflected as unfulfilled under the Oppositions list.