Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay justified that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has cut down on a lot of unnecessary expenses which exceeds the cost of a minister’s service.
This was in response to a query raised by Member of Parliament (MP) Dorji Wangdi during the question hour of the NA session yesterday morning. He said, while PDP during its campaign pledged to reduce the number of minister and that the Prime Minister will take charge over one of the ministries, there are still ten ministers which meant the pledge hasn’t been fulfilled as promised.
Lyonchhen said there is a difference between a pledge and the motive of the pledge. “The motive of this particular pledge was to cut down Cabinet expenses which have been achieved,” he said.
Lyonchhen went on to elaborate and justify how unnecessary expenses have been avoided ever since the PDP administration took over. Austerity measures such as doing away with political appointees at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), excessive security personnel, servants and helpers for ministers among others.
“By doing away with all these services, the cabinet has cut down expenses by NU 5,43,800 per month,” he explained.
Lyonchhen said the three political appointees at the PMO alone cost the secretariats NU 1, 16,200 while the expenses for five servants and helpers amounted to almost NU 0.2mn a month. This is excluding the expenses incurred for two police pilots, ADCs and other security arrangements.
“We are not criticizing the past government. I respond and justify because a question has been asked. Since the motive is to cut down expenses, I have justified how we did it. Please acknowledge that unnecessary expenses have been slashed by substantial amount, expenses which is more than the cost of having a minister,” Lyonchhen concluded.
However, Lyonchhen apologized for not fulfilling the pledge to take over a ministry although the objective has been met.
Cabinet members also said the prime minister has the responsibility to assist or look into issues concerning all the ministries and that the decision was made through consultations and discussions within the Cabinet and elected members.
“This was discussed in more than three Cabinet meetings before we came to a decision. It’s a collective decision,” education minister Mingbo Dukpa said.
Home minister Damcho Dorji said the Druk Phunsum Tshogpa (DPT) pledged for a deputy minister in the labour ministry to combat unemployment issue. “We thought DPT resorted to this either because the former minister was incompetent or there was a serious issue in the ministry. That is why we, out of great concern pledged that the PM himself shall take care of the labour ministry if elected to office.”
“However, upon analysis post elections, we found no valid reason to appoint an additional minister,” he added.
Lyonpo Damcho also said the better option was to cut down the Cabinet expenses.