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Government’s tenure, a big failure: Opposition

Flip-flop and irrational decisions, wasteful expenditures, bad precedence and rush for inaugurations on government’s part have created a vacuum in building an image of the country, according to the Opposition.

Labelling the government’s tenure as highly unsuccessful, the members from Opposition said at a press conference on July 31 that the government in numerous occasions had hoodwinked the people.

According to the opposition leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD), the government pledged to construct the Shingkhar-Gorgan road within the first year of its governance despite knowing that the clearance from environment commission is a major obstacle.

“When we were in the government, we said that unless the forestry laws are amended nothing could be done,” the opposition leader said. “Now they are coming with the same response.”

This is just one of the many pledges and commitments the government made and remains unfulfilled, according to the Opposition. During the press conference on July 31, the Opposition had more than 60 activities to list where the government pledged and failed.

Panbang’s opposition member Dorji Wangdi said that the state of the country’s economy is in a mess. “This government has been very dishonest and corrupt,” he said. “Increasing debt, widening trade deficit, depleting foreign currency reserve and unemployment are serious concerns pertaining to the economy.”

He added that no new investments are made that could boost domestic production and generate employment. “Not a single hydropower project, that has already been agreed by the Indian government has been implemented,” he said.

Opposition leader said that the only project implemented, Kholongchhu, is in a state of “bardo”.

 

Wasteful expenditure

The power tiller pledge remain more or less achieved since the government has procured and distributed more power tillers than the number of chiwogs, the opposition claimed. However, in some remote chiwogs of Lunana, people are yet to receive one.

Opposition leader said that 70 percent of power tillers are lying idle in the gups’ offices. While in some case, he said the terrain does not favor and in place where geography favors, the hiring procedure is too complex and economically unviable.

The Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC), according to the oppositon is another wasteful expenditure where the operating cost is higher than the benefit. “The biggest worry now is in the repayment because people are not concerned because it has become a political tool,” Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said.

“The government may not have done it but the general feeling among the people is that project approval is discriminating,” he said adding that most appointees in BOiC are former candidates and supporters of PDP.

The opposition, he said, is of the view that formation of such state enterprise is in itself has set a bad precedence.  “If the next government forms another state enterprise to finance loan at one percent interest, the whole banking sector would be distorted,” the Opposition leader said.

 

Bad precedence

Various state enterprises like the Rural Enterprise Development Corporation, Agriculture Machinery Centre, Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation, Urban Greening Corporation, Farm Shops, Bhutan Duty Free Limited and Bhutan Lottery Limited has been established during the government’s tenure.

This, the members of the opposition felt is a bad precedence. More so, because of the favoritism and nepotism that prevailed in appointment of the officials, the opposition claimed.

Farm Shops, the opposition leader said were a replica of the erstwhile FCB fair price shop, which was necessary in those days. Today, he said the farm shops are selling basic imported commodities like milk powder, rice and oil among others, which is already being sold in private shops across the country. Instead, he said pesticides and seeds would be a fair deal for the benefit of farmers.

Civil servants, today, the opposition leader said fear reprimand of talking to other parties. “They fear of consequences like transfer and promotion,” he said adding that the removal of three senior secretaries sent a strong sense of insecurity among the civil servants.

“The appointment to higher position in the civil service was based on the PDP future candidates, the rumours that later turned out to be true,” Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said.

 

Inaugurations

In a haste to inaugurate the projects, the DPT claimed that quality has been compromised just to show that the pledges have been fulfilled. “The thinking of the government is as if the life span of the country is five years,” the opposition leader said adding that the highways and infrastructures are going to remain anyways.

“The GC roads appear like someone went with a big brush and painted them black,” he said.

During the former government’s tenure, he said the Election Commission of Bhutan did not allow the ministers to inaugurate projects and appear on television and newspapers, three months prior to elections. The reason, he said was because the ECB felt it would not be fair to other parties.

“Today, the government is inaugurating activities that are not even fully completed to the last second,” Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said referring to the housing complex in Phuntsholing and the highways that remain blocked week after inauguration.

 

Flip-flops

The opposition also cornered the government on some of the decisions that was later backtracked. Ada Rachu was one example, they cited.

College of Rigney in Trashiyangtse was another example. “If a college could be set up for just 12 students, we could establish thousands of colleges,” the opposition leader said.

It stated that the rising east policy was backtracked when there were criticisms and promoted when the situation suited.  The corporatisation of JDWNRH was another move the government backtracked, according to the opposition.

With the establishment of central schools, extended classroom and community schools, the opposition stated was closed affecting universal primary enrolment. “But the government denied of such closure and later it comes to be true,” he added.

“We are aware that the intent and objective of central school is noble, but there needs to be some reform to ensure equity in the education sector.”

Tshering Dorji

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