At the annual agreement review meeting held on January 7, works and human settlement ministry presented 13 risk indicators and said that it spent only 23.63 percent of the total budget.

Works and human settlement secretary, Phuntsho Wangdi, said this is not a concern.

He said that the fund advances were not reflected under expenditure and most work under Asian Development Bank and World Bank were only awarded today. “Considering the achievements based on the fund releases, the ministry has achieved 60.2 percent. The releases are according to programmed activities.  If we see the releases, then budget expenditure is okay.”

The 13 risk indicators included failure to meet gewog centre (GC) roads construction and blacktopping of highway and GC roads.

Phuntsho Wangdi said that of 49 success indicators, three had been achieved, while 33 were on track.

He added that formation cutting of 0.8km hydropower project roads were upgraded. Work for 12 bridges was initiated and the timeline to submit national sanitation and hygiene policy to Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) was met.

Due to fund constraints, unfavourable conditions and road stabilisation issues, the ministry’s target to fully achieve 36.69km GC road and blacktopping 438.57km of GC roads were affected.

Phuntsho Wangdi said that Bjakamja to Yuetsa GC road, which initially was 2.5km, had to be decreased to 2km due to fund constraints. “Similarly, the Halhalay to Phuntshopelri GC road falls under geologically unstable area and a new road alignment form Sukriti was proposed.”

As 29km farm road was already there through Sukriti route, only 2km of formation cutting was required. This, however, has not been executed due to lack of fund.

Blacktopping of 35.48km Serthi to Lauri road, which was recently constructed, could not be blacktopped as the road needed to be stabilised for further work.

To the ministry’s suggestion to minimise the targets, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that construction of 2.5km Bjakamja to Yuetsa GC road was possible.

He said that fund would be sought. “And for blacktopping of the GC road, the rating is already very good. But because blacktopping of Halhalay to Phuntshopelri GC road isn’t possible, let us decrease the target to 403.09km from 438.57km.”

Ministry said that blacktopping of northern east-west highway from Chuserboo to Trongsa and Trongsa to Nangar would be delayed.

“A few contractors allocated for the work are not performing as expected by the ministry,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

The ministry aims to blacktop 134.6km of northern east-west highway.

Bhutan Building Rules, Land Polling Rules, and Structure Plans were also among the risk indicators. Although the work for the documents has been completed, the timeline to submit them to allotted department is seen as at risk.

Issues such as contractor’s competence, lack of specialised and professional workers, poor rating of Department of Roads due to contractor’s performance and not refurbishing enough blacktopped roads were also shared.

Prime minister said that these issues should be reflected in the 12th Plan for improvement.

He added that a maintenance plan was suggested at the Cabinet as many highway and GC roads are being constructed. “Work on a long-run maintenance plan with a sense of urgency.”

Phurpa Lhamo