The Opposition shared concerns on government performance during the meet-the-press session held recently in Thimphu.
The Opposition Leader, Dr Pema Jamtsho said the Opposition party was very clear in opposing the pay revision from the time that the proposal was first tabled in the Parliament. Dr Jamtsho said, “We did not support the pay raise for the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and equal in the ranks. As per the Parliamentary procedure, we have to accept the decision of majority and it was based on the number of votes.”
The Opposition said they agree with the recommendations of the National Council, but said a few changes needs to be in place, as such the ministers and Members of Parliament not taking the raise now. The Opposition Leader said other positions and institutions, like the judiciary, constitutional bodies and government secretaries should take the pay raise.
He said, “We are ready to give up the pay raise, ideally everybody was not happy and if this is the case, we will see whether there is an opportunity for the government to review the whole thing and to hand over the proposal back to the Pay Commission to relook, in terms of adjusting, and one complaint is of civil servants in the lower ranks not getting enough and pay raise is for the upper rank.”
Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi, said, “My concern is youth unemployment in urban areas has increased to 22.8% from 13.5%, unemployment case is becoming worse. Regarding the overseas employment program, its target is to send about 30,000 unemployment youth during five years but
till now they have not been able to send any unemployed youth and there are only three overseas employment agents and Guaranteed Employment Program (GEP), I have a doubt how successful it will be.”
Lamgong- Wangchang MP, Khandu Wangchuk, said, “If we want to increase the employment opportunities, we should develop our economy. In case of overseas employment program, countries will provide jobs where their own people cannot work.”
The Opposition Leader said, “We need to have major investments, attract FDIs and investment within the country. We do need to have big projects.”
5% fuel tax
Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi, said the 5% fuel tax should not be levied due to the good relation with India. He said India is providing fuel at a subsidize rate and to levy tax on a subsidy is of no use. “Secondly, there is an increase in vehicle tax and if we levied 5% fuel tax then people will have more burdens. It is not a good idea,” MP Dorji Wangdi shared.
RAA Report on public Debt Management
Bartsham-Shongphu MP, Wangdi Norbu, said, “Debt which cannot be repaid is debt which we contract for our consumption.” He said the debt incurred for hydro power projects is really investment as it will give returns. “60% compromise of hydropower debt which will earn money and able to repay and 40% debt are free money which means long repayment period with no interest rate,” MP Wangdi Norbu added. The debt to GDP ratio by the end of 11th FYP is projected to grow at 121%.
Bumthang town development case
The Opposition Leader said he has requested the PM to formally communicate with the Bumthang Dzongkhag Tshogdu chairman, dzongda and thromde thumi that development of Bumthang town would take place as in 11th FYP. He said he has also requested the PM to take action against the people who misinformed the PM on the town development so as to sort out the misinformation and to avoid such misunderstanding in the future.
Off season tourists
North-Thimphu MP, Kinga Tshering, said in one main issue is what kind of branding being done for tourism in Bhutan. “Yes, we need to increase number of tourists in Bhutan during the off season months. Should it be that cost of reducing the price even by 50%?” He said such moves will have be made carefully as it will squeeze out the service providers and people working in tourism sector, air lines industries and hoteliers.
Drametse- Ngatshang MP, Ugyen Wangdi, said there is no reason to pass the RTI Bill in the joint sitting of the Parliament. “I don’t think NC will pass the bill as it is probable this bill will become dead.” He further said the government did not cooperate with the NC and respect the bill. “The house looks like they are trying to pass the blame. In future, if people demand why they did not pass the bill, I think they will have easy answer to say that NC did not support it,” MP Ugyen Wangdi added.
Nubi-Tangsibji MP, Nidup Zangpo, said all vehicles are taxed because of the current account deficit, and so must the electric vehicles (EVs) with minimum amount like sales and custom duties. “We have requested the government for the tax for EVs but due to the voting, we cannot do anything,” he added.