The Public Accounts Committee’s recommendation to maintain adequate fund for National Food Security Reserve (NFSR) and SAARC Food Security Reserve would be reviewed and approved, the joint sitting of the parliament decided on December 6.
The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) made nine recommendations following a performance audit of the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL).
The report stated that it was a challenge to maintain the required NFSR and SAARC Food Security Reserve due to lack of adequate fund. “The responsibility of farmers is to work in land. What we need to do is help farmers in transportation and in selling their produce.”
Some of the findings included overlap in the powers and responsibilities, cases of damages and dumping of food, and lapses in human resource management.
Trongsa MP Tharchen said the RAA recommended that adequate fund for food reserve should be allotted. He said that it was the responsibility of the government to provide modern facilities.
Opposition leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said the FCBL has two main objectives, to earn profit and to fulfil social responsibility. “Aims and responsibility should be segregated to prevent problems and increase efficiency.”
Citing an example of Druk Seed Corporation, he said that the organisation provided good quality seeds until it became a corporation. He said that it emphasised on profit by compromising the quality after which the organisation was again made a government agency.
Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said that some of RAA’s recommendations had been already implemented.
RAA’s report also reflected FCB’s achievements, which include establishment of farm shops, implementation of Bhutan Commodity Exchange (BCE) as an independent entity to improve rural livelihood, and initiation of cash and credit advance to provide better returns for the produce.
Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that of the nine RAA recommendations, four have already been implemented. “FCB submitted the draft to the ministry which would be modified accordingly and presented in a strategy paper.”
He said that the ministry has been reserving about 1400 Metric Tonnes (MT) of rice, 55 MT of oil, and 200 MT of sugar and that SAARC Food Security Reserve also requires countries to reserve food grains of about 360 MT.
The status of stock as of May 1 last year indicated a difference in the required quantity of food and the actual quantity. The quantity of rice and sugar were below the required stock level, whereas oil was found to be above the required level.
The minister said that the report is also shared with the Department of Disaster Management.