The Finance Minister Namgay Tshering during a press meet clarified that there were no announcements regarding the discontinuity of stationary support, freebies and uniforms for central schools (CS) and autonomous schools.
Lyonpo added, “However, in order to bring in reforms with the existing central school concept, instead of a blanketed approach of giving uniforms to everyone, during cabinet discussion we agreed upon a more targeted approach wherein we have to identify the needy students.”
Lyonpo stated that the targeted approach will be determined using the statistical figures collected during the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan 2017 (PHCB 2017) report for the part of the population identified to be below the poverty line.
Lyonpo added, “I think if we dissect and look deeper into the budget notification that we have circulated to the budgetary agencies following the endorsement of the budget appropriation act last summer, until now central schools and autonomous schools were provided budget in the form of grants to procure stationeries, freebies and uniform”.
Lyonpo said that starting from the current fiscal year 2020-2021, whole budgetary agencies, 10 ministries, 205 gewogs, and 20 Dzongkhags, 34 autonomous agencies, Judiciary bodies’ recurring budgets have been allocated budget in the form of annual block grant.
“The principle of allocating grant for central schools and autonomous agencies was irrelevant, therefore as per our notification although it states that CS and Autonomous agencies will not get the grant, however, each respective budgetary agencies like the Dzongkhag, Thromde and Ministry of Education have been allocated budget in the form of block grant and they will continue with the freebies”, Lyonpo added.
Lyonpo said that the Education Ministry has already notified the Dzongkhag administrations, Thromde and school authorities that stationeries would have to be provided after being procured by the respective agencies.
Lyonpo added, “If we look at the previous fiscal year’s domestic revenue it has gone down by 15%, therefore there is a minimal cut for all the budgetary agencies from the recurrent budgetary cost as we could not realize the domestic revenue as expected.”
Lyonpo said that despite the contrasting figures, the financial capacity for recurrent expenditure is sufficient.
Lyonpo concluded to state that the miscommunications were resultants from the closure of schools and the lockdowns.
He added, “There was some disruption in communication. However, we would not credit it to policy contradiction or lack of ministry to ministry cross-integration”.