If a pledge is seen to require further thought or the timing to implement it was not right, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not implement it for the sake of fulfilling its promise, the outgoing prime minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay said during the last meet-the-press session on August 9.
He said this in response to the status of some of the pledges that were not achieved. For instance, pledges such as theme-based amusement park in south, transforming the Mongar referral hospital into a center of research, traditional medicine wellness center in all dzongkhags, pension scheme for private sector, print park, sponsor of pilgrimage and allowance to senior citizens and adoption of tourism Bill, among others remain unachieved.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said it is unfair to judge the government’s performance from a myopic approach and get down to every pledge in the manifesto.
“We have initiated so many big projects that was not part of our manifesto,” he said. While the government of the day must be held accountable, he said that media must highlight all those pledges that are achieved, unachieved and those that are not in the pledges.
For instance, he said the double lane east-west highway, the central schools, electric fences, mother and child hospital, among others, were never part of the pledges. Likewise, the professional development of teachers, doubling the health trust fund and PISA D were also not in the pledges, he said.
As for Mongar hospital upgradation into a research center, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that the focus was on KGUMSB, which is also not a pledge.
Allowance for senior citizens, he said would tantamount to taking away the prerogative of His Majesty’s kidu programmes, he said.
“The pneumococcal and flu vaccine to old people was not a part of our pledge but it is going to do wonders for old people,” he said. “The right to information Act, he said was part of their pledge but got stuck because of the National Council.” As for the women quota in parliament, he said it seems that women themselves do not see it as good idea.
While wellness centre in every dzongkhag was not achieved, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that for the first time traditional hospital in Thimphu has inpatients.
Out-going health minister, Tandin Wangchuk said that people have been trained in the field of wellness centre. “People will have to come forward and take it as a business and it might take some time to pick up,” he said.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said there are other bigger projects that were never part of their pledge. This was also in response to the opposition’s statement that the outgoing government has not started any big projects to transform the economy and generate employment.
He said that for the first time in history, the country has developed capacity to build hydropower projects. Earlier, he said all the country did was operate the hydropower plants. Now, he added the CDCL has ventured into tunnelling and the Bhutan Hydropower Services Ltd. is not just manufacturing the hydro components but also exporting them. Similarly, Bhutan automation, another new subsidiary of Druk Green, is developing control system for the hydropower projects. The company, he informed has fetched a contract from Punatshangchhu I and II worth Nu 900M.
He also highlighted the establishment of Bhutan Lottery, State Mining, Farm Mechanisation Corporation, as big projects that generated employment and benefitted the people.
He added that Nu 7B was incurred to widen the east and west highway and nobody including the media believed that it could be completed in four years.
“Now only a small stretch remains, which would be completed by next month,” he said. “This is a huge project that would spread economic development and bring about balanced regional development.”
“A good 56 gewogs have never smelt power tiller for 34 years,” he said adding that his government bought 1,200 power tillers and distributed it in the gewogs. GC road, he said is another big project that is already reversing the pattern of goongtongs.
The 63 central schools, he said would provide better quality education and food, “Saving 380 lives by the helicopter is a big project,” he said. He also mentioned about the gewog banks, REDCL and farm shops that should be considered as big projects that benefitted the people in rural areas.
The guaranteed employment scheme, he said is another big project where Nu 1.2B has been spent. The 12th Plan, he said is the biggest project.
Out-going agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji added that irrigation has been neglected for many years. “We initiated major irrigation project spending nearly Nu 2B,” he said.
The DPT, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said should not claim credit for Thimphu Tech Park. “It was so bad that the JV partner pulled out,” he said. DPT’s big project, education city, he said was a very opaque project challenging the laws of land for personal gains. ”We are happy that we stopped it.”
While the DPT started three mega hydropower projects, he said that the projects were mishandled leading to unprecedented challenges.
When the election is around the corner, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said people are being misled and panic created. “We have to call out those lies, but it’s difficult when the media do not believe,”he said referring to the contradicting figures and facts the opposition presented.
He mentioned that DPT’s former minister, Yeshey Zimba’s brother was appointed as secretary. Similarly, former minister Wangdi Norbu’s brother and former Prime Minister’s niece were appointed as ambassadors to Geneva and New York. The Former Opposition leader’s cousin is the labour secretary. “This is proof that we were not divisive,” he added.