State funding remained a most debated issue in parliament when it popped-up for discussions, and the general sentiments and outcry alike was more or less unanimous even outside parliament starting from the common man’s voice to educated intellectual voices in executive positions.
The proposition for state funding was therefore snubbed even before it started to bud.
Midway 2012, the next big elections right at the doorsteps , this weary topic has once again, made an encore entry and as expected, with mutually-shared sentiments among the supposedly ‘needy’ parties.
Political parties, new and old have recently expressed urgent need for state funding of political parties.
Other than the big noble alibi to ‘establish a strong and vibrant democratic system’ other reasons that line the trail are to run offices, make payments for the employees and meeting other party expenses.
“Even being a ruling government, we find it difficult to adjust our financial needs, even though there are contributions made by the Member s of Parliament (MPs),” said Treasurer of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, Tshewang Rinzin
He said it is the very reason why DPT fought for a second time for the state funding, but it did not come through. “To avoid the rich people’s control on politics, if private or business people support any political party then there would be implications,” said the DPT treasurer.
“At present we are able to somehow manage but the future of Bhutanese politics looks grim,” he added.
The spokesperson of the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Dr. Tandi Dorji said under prevailing conditions only the well-off can join politics.
“We have to invest before becoming a politician and on top of that there is no other source of income for aspiring politicians,” he said.
“We are surviving on the contribution made among ourselves at the initial stage but what will happen if we have to set-up a office and go around the constituencies.”
A core member of Druk Chirwang Tshogpa (DCT), Tandin Tshering, said “with approximately 700,000 population and six political parties at present, its difficult even to raise money through registration and voluntary contribution”.
He said at present the party is able to sustain otherwise it would be difficult as well as risky to even ask support from the business people.
The spoke person for the Bhutan Kuenyam Party (BKP), Sonam Tobgay said there is no need for state funding at the initial stage of set-up for parties.
“Probably at this moment we have to spend money only in terms of phone call, but after formal registration we have to meet other expenses,” said the BKP spokesperson.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP), MP Damcho Dorji said that money raised from membership fees and registrations are too negligible to run party offices and meet other expenses.
“If Government’s whole purpose is to prevent corruption then there should be state funding to forbid parties to take contributions,” he said. “If a Party gets a contribution, then the contributor expects something in return as a result corruption will creep in.”
The Finance officer, Tshewang Penjore of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) clarified that political parties can raise fund through e registration fees, voluntary contribution and membership fees.
He said other than that “there is nothing we can do as we already increased the registration fee to Nu 5,000 and voluntary contributions to Nu 500,000 after the financial crunch of the parties was taken into consideration”.