The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in the east are wooing voters on the premise of its ideology ‘Wangtse Chhirpel,’ which they say is all about empowering people for liberty, equality, and prosperity by devolving power and authority.
Such devolution will be done from the centre right to the people. In almost all common forums, PDP candidates have been swearing, if party comes to power, it will be the people who will enjoy all powers and authorities.
The party candidates’ speeches centre on the local government (LG) level, which candidates believe ought to be strengthened. If strengthened, LG would function independently with minimal of assistance from the centre.
PDP has been promising that it will ensure that local governments in gewogs, thromdes, yenlag thromdes, dzongkhags, if they come to power, will enjoy more administrative powers than ever before.
In promising maximum autonomy to take decisions, PDP pledges to handover more powers to prioritize, and even change based on their own need, the developmental activities, and recruit people and take all other administrative decisions.
The party also pledges that equally, more financial powers will also be authorized. “Currently, plans are made at the local level. but they are then submitted to the dzongkhag and then to the centre,” pointed out the PDP’s eastern candidate. He added, “The budget then flows in the other direction.” Hence, he said, PDP will allow LG the power and authority to re-prioritize how LG will use the money.
Specifically, candidates have been pledging that when it comes to financial powers, PDP will increase the current amount of Nu 50,000 which is the amount given to each gewog over and above the budget for other expenses by 40 times to Nu 20,00,000. Such an amount, the party said can be used by the gewog at their discretion.
Further, PDP within the first week of forming the government promises to constitute a pay commission. The commission, the candidate said, will look into all salary and benefit packages of the LG. “Local leaders deserve more than double their current salary and many other allowances,” said PDP candidates in the dzongkhag quoting the party manifesto.
In the example cited by the candidates, comparatively, in 2007, both gups and chimis received the same salary of about Nu 8,000. But today, the salary of a gup is Nu 14,365 plus Nu 500 mobile voucher allowance. Whereas the chimis, who have now become Thuemis (MPs) get Nu 52,465 as salary, plus Nu 5000 as salary allowance, 30% house rent (Nu 15,740), Nu 6000 as driver allowance, Nu 7000 as fuel allowance, Nu 1000 for telephone plus Nu 700,000 and a vehicle quota at the beginning of the term.
“They reminded the people that the house rent of MPs is more than the salary of the gups today,” adding it in the simple calculation.
PDP candidates also pledged to ensure that 205 gewogs will have properly- surfaced farms roads with a drain, special loan schemes for farmers to buy utility vehicles likes power tillers and Bolero (Indian manufactured pick-up trucks), at least one power tiller in every Chiwog, one utility vehicle in every gewog office, and gewog offices connected by a black-topped motor road.
In addition, PDP also has been selling their promise of having one fuel station which will sell kerosene, gas cylinders, petrol and diesel, one FCB shop and one farmer’s bank
At the dzongkhag level, the party promises to include at least one good school with boarding facilities. This comes in addition to at least one excavator for every dzongkhag, three doctors in every dzongkhag hospital with one specialist among them, and also a fire fighting unit.
The party representatives have also been promising two ambulances in every hospital in addition to two helicopter ambulances to airlift emergency patients to better hospitals.
This is only pertaining to the rural focus while the party has also been giving many youth and employment related pledges, while others were related to women, civil servant, armed forces, private sector, economy, welfare and social security.