Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has said that the government is open to suggestions from Members of Parliament pertaining to the 12th Five-Year Plan, the draft of which will be deliberated and adopted by the ongoing Parliament session.

Lyonchhen said this yesterday in response to a question over confusion on whether the 12th Plan would be presented to Parliament for deliberation or for information only. National Assembly members have expressed reservations on the Plan for failure to meet their expectations.

Dr Lotay Tshering said, “As there is no hard and fast rule, we will go by their wisdom (of the MPs). If there are good suggestions, we will be more than happy to take them on board.”

The 12th Plan, he said, should be dynamic with emerging needs and that it can be changed even after it is endorsed by parliament. However, he clarified that given the limited resources that are fixed, adjustments in the Plan can only be made with development activities depending on the priority and not with the Plan period outlay.

Concerns on issues like decreasing amount of budget for ministries such as agriculture and health have been raised. However, citing the example of the health ministry, the PM said that the country had limited resources and that making the best use of the limited resources was the key.

Some of the concerns are the lack of local pledges in the 12th Plan. Most MPs have made constituency specific pledges during the election, which they want to be implemented.

Lyonchhen said, “The basic question is whether or not we can change the 12th Plan if the MPs are not happy. Why is there a need to put it in Parliament if we cannot change it?”

He said that there were legal and practical aspects to look for in the issue.

Lyonchhen said, “The legal part of the issue is something totally different. But on the practical part, we wanted to have it discussed in parliament so that all the MPs from both the ruling party and the opposition are on board.”

However, he added that presenting the 12th Plan in Parliament was a liberal approach and that the government would not hesitate to relook its approach if its intentions were misunderstood.

“If people misunderstand this liberal approach, and if people misunderstand that being in Parliament means that they would have the right to undo the whole thing, then we will have to relook our approach,” he said.

GNHC secretary Thinley Namgyel, who was also present at the press meet, explained that the rationale of presenting the plan for information and not deliberation was based on the past precedent.

“The 10th and 11th Plans were presented in Parliament more as information. Of course, there was some good feedback from the MPs, which I think were taken,” he said, adding that things will be done in a similar manner even with the 12th Plan.

He said that the Plan was a government prerogative and that it had every right to take on board issues that the parliamentarians raise subject to the Cabinet’s decision. “From the GNHC’s side, we say that we should definitely take good ideas even if the Plan document is finalised and is in effect,” he said.

“The government of the day can totally change the Plan and come up with a totally new one, and yet not put it in Parliament. And the government of the day must have this much authority because it’s the government that has to implement the change,” he said.

Lyonchhen said that it would not make much sense if the government as the implementer of the Plan does not have the right to change it. “So, legally speaking, we do not need to deliberate it and Parliament’s approval is not required for the 12th Plan to take effect. Yet, on the practical front we wanted everyone on board,” he said.

The 12th Plan, the PM said, was an outcome of the works done by the local government, various agencies, ministries and GNHC under the last government’s leadership. Undoing the whole that was done under the leadership of a different government would not make sense, he added.

He said that the Cabinet did not make much change to the 12th Plan, but that it only made some changes to adjust the ruling party’s priorities, which he said were national priorities. He lauded the GNHC and senior bureaucrats for doing an excellent job in alleging the DNT pledges in the 12th Plan.

“I have all the regards and respect to senior bureaucrats led by GNHC,” he said.

The winter session of Parliament began yesterday. In his opening address, Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said that the 12th Plan was one of the main orders of deliberation in the session.


MB Subba