The priority is to revive the economy first, not build buildings says govt.

Construction: Despite several government agencies managing in crammed spaces, the government has deferred the construction of all new buildings in this Plan.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji said at 19th meet the press that the government was determined to improve the country’s economy before investing in building office spaces.

“Constructions have so much pressure on the current account because everything has to be imported,” lyonpo Namgay Dorji said.

He said since the country is still reeling under rupee shortage, its use had to be prioritised for the private sector and private constructions.

“Whatever rupee the government could save was diverted for those purposes, and agriculture,” the minister said.

He said in the 2013-14 fiscal year, finance ministry records show that the country imported goods worth Nu 10 billion.

“We could survive in our buildings for these many years, so why not defer for a couple of years and revive the country in terms of economy,” Lyonpo said.

At present, with funds flowing in for the hydropower projects, the minister said that the rupee situation on the whole is improving and the government does not see much of a problem.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said it is a question of timing.

“Our civil servants need better offices, there is no question about that,” Lyonchoen said. “They’re working in crammed offices.”

“However, where we have been building offices, we have been building almost white elephants and huge offices,” he said.

At the beginning of the Plan, the government decided that rather than building excessively large offices, it would spend that money on other productive areas.

“That includes roads, and agriculture because road is the economic pipeline of the country and agriculture is not just going to reduce rupee deficit but improve the livelihoods of so many of our farmers,” he said.

However, those in dire need of office space expansion, like the Royal Civil Service Commission, and the agriculture ministry, the Prime Minister said the government would discuss it during the mid-term review.

“We understand that it is very difficult for them and this is something that we’ll look at in the mid-term review,” he said. “We may have to look at how to address the present constraints for some of the offices,” he said.

The National Council, Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority, and the Election Commission among others have proposed for new office space.

Tshering Palden