Realistic pledges

Finally, it is the turn of politicians to take part in the larger national reforms, and quite a few of them are already complaining loudly.

The ECB’s rule mandating that political parties must reveal the source of financing for their promises is a welcome rule.

This is especially in the context of what is happening in the region and also around the world.

Sri Lanka did not go bankrupt overnight, but it happened over the terms of political parties who made more and more populist promises and spent freely and took more loans to fulfill them. The most populist of them won the last elections and then disaster struck due to the accumulation of past loans, massive tax reductions and COVID-19.

There are plenty of other case studies in the neighbourhood where voters vote for a free TV, bicycles or some cash allowance.

Bhutan has been heading down that slippery slope with every general election as an increasingly competitive political field has lead to larger and larger populist promises.

While COVID-19 played a role, the election pledges have also played a major role in record fiscal deficits in the last four budgets.

We are now looking at declining reserves, import restrictions and austerity measures.

It is ironical that Bhutan swings between populist and expensive pledges on one hand and austerity measures and import bans on the other.

Elections cannot be reduced to a competition of freebies between parties as it will come at the expense of the voters themselves. Nothing is for free.

Political parties and politicians must realize that Bhutan cannot be allowed to go the way of undisciplined and wild Asian and African countries where anything goes to get political power.

Our political leaders and we as citizens also have to secure our future and not just blow up everything in enjoying the present.

We must secure our own collective future and that of our children.

The politicians promises of yesterday are the taxes of today.
Mackenzie King

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