The opposition party conducted its own meet the press session for the first time on 27th February in Thimphu to share their views on the performance of the government.
Opposition leader Dr. Pema Jamtsho said, “Now that the present parliament has finished its second session and the new government has completed nearly seven months, we felt that we now have enough information and issues to share with the nation.”
He said that as constantly mentioned from day one, the Opposition party are not out to criticize the government nor oppose the decision of the government for the sake of doing so.
He said, “When we feel that laws, policies and programs that this government formulates are in the interest of Tsa-Wa-Sum, we will extend support as we have done so far, but when we feel otherwise, we are duty bound to oppose and provide alternative views and solutions.”
Import of Electric Vehicle
MP Kinga Tshering of North-Thimphu Constituency said, “There are a lot of viability questions on the electric vehicle. Has proper studies been carried out in terms how much it is really going to contribute towards saving of the environment? I think from what we hear from media, the battery seems to be under question as there are some concern raised on how long the battery is going to last. The car will also cost USD 16000 which is expensive.”
He said that when Bhutan launches 200-3 00 electric vehicles, Bhutan will be looking at spending Nu 300-400Mn and the question now was whether private individuals will be able to come up with their own money and afford it or whether the government will be giving subsidies and pay for the electric vehicles.
He said, “I think this is not clear at this point in time and our only concern and request to government is whether a proper study has been carried out or not.”
Opposition Leader, Dr. Pema Jamtsho said that the Opposition party’s concern was on terrain, climate and roads and how many Kilo Meters it would run. He said proper studies should be done and it should also be seen whether the Bhutan Standard Bureau has approved it or not. He said that proper studies have not been done so far.
MP Wangdi Norbu of Bartsham-Shongphu constituency said that government should not patronize any particular brand of vehicles which is against the very principle of spending public money. He said there could be more than one such vehicles and the government would have to go by many other criteria as rules state that the government cannot mention the brand.
MP Wangdi Norbu said, “We were hoping that there would be some positive report in the parliament but it was extended. There is lot of work involved in it, and it has to be done very carefully. It could have been done it earlier but there are so many different aspects and implications but we will be very happy if it can be given.”
MP Dorji Wangdi of Pangbang constituency said that pay commission’s job is to look into salary and allowances of public servants and not only civil servants.
MP Khandu Wangchuk of Lamgong-Wangchang constituency said, “I think it is not only the 24,000 civil servant that we are looking at when we talk of pay increase. The movement we raise the pay of 24,000 civil servants, the corporate and private sector too will raise them. They also have to attract good people and therefore the cost of everything will go up. This has to be all calculated.”
Lifting band on alcohol and furniture
MP Wangdi Norbu said that every small thing is important they contribute to the economy and in particular alcohol. “I think the import ban had benefited the economy and in the case of furniture we could help our domestic manufacturers. We can preserve our foreign exchange for importing other things in the economy. “
Autonomy of schools
MP Dorji Wangdi said, “We are still not aware when we will have proper policies and procedures for autonomous administration and management of schools because if there are no clear policies and procedure in place, there can be lot of problems. When administration and management is not good, it will have directly impact on the quality of academics.”
PDP Pledges for the first 100 days in office
Mp Kinga Tshering said, “The government has fulfilled 40% of its pledges for first 100 days in office after 200 days. Let us give due credit, I suppose it is opposition’s responsibility to keep remaining media, public and government because these are specific and target pledges.”
Oversea employment program
MP Sonam Penjor of Kengkhar-Weringla constituency said that there are many problems in the overseas employment program. He said the government said they would send people to Saudi Arabia and other countries but when jobseekers go to MoLHR, there is no clear policy implemented. He asked, what the criterion was, when they will be sent, and what are the qualifications needed. He also said it was not clear when the unemployment benefit would be provided as there is no clear policy.
MP Dorji Wangdi said, “Within five years 30,000 jobseekers will be sent aboard; we have big concerns over this program. Though the impact and implication of foreign remittances on local economy will be there, if we go at this rate in, it will ruin the economy in the next 10-40 years.”