Dasho Tshering Tobgay in his capacity as People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President and the outgoing Prime Minister during the PDP convention on 4 August and the last meet the press on 9 August clarified on what he said was a series of lies being perpetuated against the government by political parties to instill fear and panic among the public.
Corporatization of JDWNRH
Dasho, during the convention, said that if they have somehow failed in their duties, political parties have every right to point that out. “Since they don’t have anything to substantiate their claims, they started lying and instilling fear amongst the people. One instance of such lies is the DPT going around telling people that PDP, during our tenure will make people pay for the health services, which is a complete lie. We never had plans to make people pay for the health services but instead we wanted to actualize our ideology of Wangtse Chirphel by devolving autonomous power to the health institutions which will help in further improving the services. We can’t even blame anyone; it is the desperate situations like this which compels them to lie,” remarked the party president which was followed with a boisterous applause from the crowd.
In the last meet the press on 9 August Dasho said that there was never any plan or intention to charge for medical services and this had been clarified numerous times to the media and the public. He said that corporatization was only to give more autonomy and improve services. Dasho said that the cabinet had decided to not proceed with corporatization and even then false information was being spread.
Similarly, during the initial phase of establishing central schools, the party president in the convention said that the other political parties started making an issue about it. However, he said that it is now a success with many people coming forth to express their appreciation and gratitude for introducing central schools.
“The other parties then started manipulating facts on central schools as well. They went on to say that PDP with more emphasis on the concept of central schools is planning to shut down many of the primary schools, which were all desperate lies to dupe people.”
At the meet the press on Thursday Dasho said that PDP is not shutting any schools and he had clarified that earlier and also in the SOTN. He said this, however, does not mean that the emphasis will be taken off central schools.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that the political parties have been going around the country, instilling fear in the people that each person would be required to pay a huge amount due to the increasing national debt by over exaggerating the reality.
Although the party president admitted that national debt has increased over the period of five years, he however, attributed the increase to the loans availed mainly for the hydro projects. Loans on hydro power are self-liquidating, whereas there has been a drastic reduction in the non-hydro loans, said the party president.
At the meet the press Dasho clarified that the government had not taken any loans for helicopters, boleros, power tillers, central school and other such projects.
Rural Enterprise Development Corporation
“There has also been false allegation that REDCL is favoring only PDP supporters which is nothing but a baseless claim. We never differentiated people based on political lines. Since, REDCL has greatly benefited many people living in the rural areas; the other parties could have kept their political agendas aside when it is for the good of the common people.”
At the meet the press he said that REDCL had got 3,500 clients within five years and this was very good compared to other established financial institutions that have been around for decades. He said the loans were also given without collateral.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that the rumors about opening a slaughterhouse on the Samrang mega farm were completely spread with ill-intention, and said that the party who accused PDP could not come up with a single evidence to back their claims. Samrang mega farm was established by the PDP government to improve livestock and agricultural produce, he said.
“One recent false claim that surfaced is on the East-West highway widening where DPT claimed that they started with the ground works on the project in the 10th FYP and PDP only completed in the 11th FYP. All along since the time when we started with the implementation of the project they have only been very critical about it,” said the president.
“In a democratic process like ours, I’m worried that the members of other political parties are misinforming the people with lies and baseless accusations against PDP. However, I have come to realize that they are intimidated by our overwhelming number of supporters and are on a mission to tarnish PDP’s reputation overall,” said Dasho Tshering Tobgay.
According to the president, the politicians of the other parties have been going around telling people that it is important to elect a new government after every five years for a healthy democratic process. “If people feel that a party is good, has fulfilled the aspirations of His Majesty, and served the people with honesty and integrity, you have the right to elect the same party but incase if it is the other way around, you have the power to change the government. No one should toy with the idea of switching the government by devising such deceptive schemes to influence the innocent voters.”
Dasho Tshering Tobgay was unanimously re-endorsed as the party president by the supporters during the convention last week.
DPT in its convention and press conference had disputed and challenged the economic figures offered by the government in its state of the nation address among others.
During the meet the press, Dasho said that on the eve of elections political parties are desperate to undermine each other and so he advised the journalists to check the the figures with National Statistic Bureau, IMF, World Bank, Department of Macro Economic Affairs, RMA and others.
“The state of the nation address is a report presented to no less than His Majesty The King, honorable MPs and the people of Bhutan. If you think I am going to lie then I think you don’t understand the sacredness of the document,” said Dasho.
He said if the figures are being manipulated by ministers then the civil servants would easily leak out such information. Dasho stressed that these economic figures were based on actual figures by different institutions.
Dasho pointed out that the Department of Macro Economic Affairs has forecast that the GDP would reach Nu 180 bn in 2018. This he said is compared to Nu 100 bn in 2013.
On DPT challenging the reserve figures Dasho said that as per RMA data obtained by the Ministry of Finance on 30th June 2013 the convertible currency was USD 726.7 mn and rupee reserve was INR 11.35 bn. This meant a total reserve of USD 916.9 mn.
He said that on 30th June 2018 the convertible currency was 831.93 mn and rupee reserve was INR 18.48 bn. This meant that the total reserves were USD 1.096 bn. He said that the SOTN figures on reserves were based on the state of the reserves data at that particular time. Dasho said that for the first time the reserves have crossed USD 1 bn.
He said that the fundamentals of the economy are very strong and that fiscal deficit is very low.
Responding to DPT’s charge that the government has not done much for employment Dasho said, “I will be the first to admit that we have not achieved everything we wanted to achieve.”
He also cautioned that it is not possible or desirable to achieve 100 percent employment as keeping the youth employed all the time is not possible. He gave the example of college graduates who do not take a job right away but need some time for transition and while undergoing this transition they are classified as unemployed.
Dasho, however, said that compared to five years ago the government has created thousands pf jobs in the corporate sector, state owned enterprises, private sector and for those not wanting to work in the private sector they have been given opportunities to work abroad.
He said that the government spent Nu 1.2 bn in subsidizing the private and corporate sector through direct employment schemes where the government took a part of the salary burden for graduates, class 12 pass outs and class 10 pass outs.
Dasho pointed out that the government is going by the PHCB figure. He said that the labour force survey was not published for one year in order to not clash with the Bhutan Living Standards survey and the PHCB which went to every household.
Dasho said that on the corruption front the government proved that if the right intention is there then a government can function without having corruption cases.
He said that when the opposition pointed to possible conflict of interest in electric vehicles given to him he had asked the ACC to investigate. The ACC’s report did not find corruption. He said that it was he also who asked the ACC to investigate the wall issue.
“If corruption is rampant as alleged by the Opposition then they should point to it and we will not tolerate it,” said Dasho.