Local govt. may be provided with new vehicles following local govt. elections 

Transport: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay announced during the recent midterm reviews (MTR) in Chukha and Samtse, that the government is looking into the possibility of purchasing more pool vehicles.

The finance ministry, Lyonchoen said is currently studying the possibilities of buying pool vehicles wherever there is requirement, including the dzongkhags.

“Our economy was not in a good state when we formed the government,” he said.

And as a result the government halted the procurement of pool vehicles at least until the economic situation improved.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay told the public of the two dzongkhags that he still used the same vehicle that he had used during his time as the opposition leader. While making tours, he said he borrowed another ministry’s pool vehicle for safety reasons.

The prime minister is entitled to a Toyota Land Cruiser, while the cabinet ministers are entitled to a Toyota Prado as exclusive duty vehicles with drivers and maintenance costs. A Maruti Wagon R is provided for the secretarial duty of the ministers.

However, the prime minister continues to use the Toyota Prado for his official duty while cabinet ministers had been using pool vehicles already available with the ministries for some time. New vehicles have been purchased for some of the ministers.

“We did not waste money that time,” Lyonchoen said, adding that the economy has improved today. “Money is there now.”

If all goes well, a gewog will also get a pool vehicle each. However, the prime minister said that the gewogs will receive the pool vehicles only after the local government elections are over.

Meanwhile, Chukha and Samtse shared the same story with regards to their pool vehicles, which have been used for over 15 years now. The government has asked the dzongkhags to surrender such vehicles to the Department of National Properties last month.

The finance ministry also required the dzongkhags to surrender those pool vehicles that were not functioning and are obsolete. The vehicles were retained just to avail the annual maintenance budget, ministry officials said.

However, dzongkhag officials have voiced that there are some vehicles that have used for more than 15 years and are still in good condition. Considering that many areas are still without good road connectivity, concerns were raised that government must not take away these pool vehicles.

It was pointed out that rugged road conditions in some areas would need pickup trucks that are currently used. It is difficult to get private vehicles run on the rough roads, a gup had pointed out in the Samtse MTR.

Although some vehicles may be usable, Lyonchoen said that the dzongkhag and gewog administrators must understand the government policy.

“Some vehicles are not used,” he said, also pointing out that these vehicles had been retained just to avail the annual maintenance budget of Nu 100,000.

However, if the vehicles have been maintained well and are still usable, Lyonchoen said these vehicles would be inspected and identified.

Rajesh Rai | Samtse