MB Subba  

The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) has revised the 12th Plan’s capital outlay to Nu 117.15 billion (B) from Nu 116.156B to accommodate the urgent priorities in response to Covid-19 pandemic.

The GNHC’s report on the reprioritisation and progress of the 12th Plan shows that the budget for the ministries and autonomous bodies have been revised upward. 

The budget for constitutional bodies has been revised from Nu 1.61B to Nu 927 million (M) by de-prioritising infrastructure construction, such as construction of courts, residence and regional offices.

The government had earmarked a budget of Nu 2.27B for construction of offices, but it has been totally withdrawn.

The human resource development has been reduced from Nu 1.2B to Nu 500M. The GNHC incorporated Nu 726M and Nu 652 for economic contingency plan (Build Bhutan project) and the agriculture contingency plan respectively.

However, the 12th Plan’s local government budget, which was Nu 50B, has not been revised. 

The reprioritisation exercise was initiated to create fiscal space to finance the new measures and interventions and to identify planned activities that could be front-loaded for implementation. 

As a consequence of the reprioritisation exercise, the government also reprioritised Lungtenzampa bridge and the common minimum infrastructure (CMI) activities for other new activities, including improvement of farm roads which includes laying granular sub base (GSB). 

For flagship programmes, there is downward revision of budget outlays for Cottage and Small Industry (CSIs), tourism, organic, and upward revision of budget for the water flagship programmes.

Under the Project Tied Assistance (PTA) programmes, a fiscal space of Nu 3.543B was created to accommodate and front load priority activities by reducing allocation under seven expenditure heads, including “professional development for teachers”, central school budgets, and construction and replacement of bridges.

The fund from the reprioratisation under the PTA was allocated for 10 prioratised activities, which include development of Taraythang road in Sarpang, improvement of Khotokha road in Wangdue, construction of Mother and Child in Mongar, and Build Bhutan project in the 12th Plan.

There are 72 PTA projects, of which 20 are 11th Plan spillovers projects and 52 are of the 12th Plan.

The budget for CSI and startup programmes has been revised downward from Nu 1.2B to Nu 1B. The money has been reprioritised for the economic contingency plan (ECP), Build Bhutan project, and agriculture activities.

The 12th Plan budget for the water flagship programmes was revised from Nu 3B to Nu 5B. According to the GNHC, 21 rural water supply schemes have been completed; 60 rural and urban water supply schemes are ongoing.

The budget for tourism has been revised from Nu 1.566B to Nu 986M. The activities that have been implemented are the tourism contingency plan and the development of roadside amenities.

The government revised the National Day footprint budget upward from Nu 509M to Nu 628.8M. As part of the National Day footprint initiatives, the government has identified construction of a 20-bed hospital in Tashichholing, a town hall, Namchukhola-Dorokha-Halhalay road, and Samtse-Tendruk road in Samtse.

The government initially said that Samtse town would be developed as a dzongkhag thromde as part of the 111th National Day footprint. But, the prime minister later said that the government faced budget shortages.

The GNHC has also revised the Digital Drukyul budget upward from Nu 2.557B to Nu 3.026B. Under the programme, the government has initiated integrated citizen services and electronic patient information system, among others.

The total outlay for the revised flagship programmes is about Nu 15B, of which Nu 9B has been mobilised.

GNHC officials earlier said that the reprioritisation was an ongoing exercise that would be carried out as per the evolving situation.

The 12th Plan has a total outlay of Nu 310.016B with Nu 193.895 billion for recurrent expenditure and Nu 116.121B for capital expenditure.

The actual implementation of the 12th Plan started only from the second year of the Plan period 1019-2020. This was because the focus of the first year of the 12th Plan was on preparatory works and completion of 11th Plan’s spillovers.