Prime Minister Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering

Prime Minister responds to the Opposition

The Opposition Party in a recent press release (pg 8) had criticized the government’s one-year performance on several fronts in response to the government’s own one-year report.

One criticism was on the issue of transparency with the Opposition asking the government to publicize the names of shareholders of Rigzom Academy, a private school in Paro, names of proprietors of firms that have been licensed to deal in electric cars, and the name of the firm and its proprietor who has been awarded the contract to execute the Flagship Program Digital Drukyul.

Lyonchhen said that he is grateful to the Opposition for such questions as he does not tolerate any collusion, nepotism and corruption.

He said that he does not have the full details but as far as he knows the Digital Drukyul flagship program has not even been tendered out. He said the owner of the school in Paro is a private citizen by the name Miss Tshering who is not connected to DNT.

In the case of electric vehicles, he said that the Ministry had set a criteria and whoever qualified were allowed to supply the vehicles and this came down to four companies and again there is not DNT affiliation or involvement here.

On the economy and debt, he said that it cannot be changed overnight and the government is in the process of making investments and the economy would definitely by helped by the nine flagship programs that have been approved by the cabinet.

On unemployment, the PM said that the root cause of unemployment is education and relevance of skills and so the government is taking steps to target these root causes.

Lyonchhen said that the revamp of the TVET system would have a major long-term impact on resolving the unemployment issue.

He said again the picking up of economic activities through programs like the flagship programs would also have an impact in generating jobs.

The Opposition charged the government with doing away with the highland flagship program and the Tourism Flagship program.

Here the PM said that he is not sure about the source of the Opposition’s information, but the Nu 1 bn tourism flagship program is still happening and that the highland flagship program has been converted into a regular activity and has been injected with Nu 350 mn.

On the criticism in the health sector the PM said he is very sorry about the death of the baby in Dagana and the deaths in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but the government had already explained these issues in the past.

Lyonchhen said that several initiatives are being taken in the health sector and it is up to the media and the people to analyze themselves.

On the issue of teachers leaving Lyonchhen said that the figures are only until May 2019 and the pay rise took effect from July 2019.

He said that the pay rise for teachers was not to retain them but to thank them for their service, give them more responsibility and make the career more attractive to get more people into it.

On the Opposition saying that only eight percent of the 120 days’ pledges had been fulfilled the government said that it is day 365 now and not day 120 and he is sorry if certain pledges have not been fulfilled.

Responding to the Opposition’s charge that the civil service pay hike had widened the gap, the PM said that the pay hike at the top level was six percent and it was 35 percent for the lower levels and so he is not sure how it has increased the gap.

He said GSP and ESP now get PF unlike earlier that the lower categories now get a higher house rent allowance than before at Nu 3,500 per month.

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