The government has said it will fulfil all the election pledges during its five-year tenure

Assembly: While the discussion on culture and tradition went smoothly in the National Assembly yesterday, the house switched to a tensed mood as it moved on to the next issue – the government’s election pledges.

Opposition MP from North Thimphu, Kinga Tshering, on behalf of his constituents, submitted that service utility vans and power tillers should be provided to every chiwog as promised.  He said providing the vehicles alone would not be enough, and that the government should also make budget allocations for fuel.

“If a provision for fuel budget isn’t made, the machines (power tillers and boleros) won’t benefit the people as much as it should,” he said.

The petition from the local government turned out to be like an agenda from the opposition party, as members engaged in a heated debate for almost two hours.

“The discussion sounds as if the government had been helping only the constituencies represented by MPs from the ruling parties,” Phuentsholing MP Rinzin Dorji said.  He said developments would take place in all the constituencies, irrespective of whether they were represented by ruling or opposition MPs.

The speaker, Jigme Zangpo, and the prime minister were not present during the debate.

Khamaed-Lunana MP Pema Drukpa said the government didn’t say that all our pledges would be fulfilled in two years. “If they’re not happy, they’ll tell us after five years,” he said.

The officiating speaker, Chimi Dorji, had to remind the members not to deviate from the crux of the matter and not waste time.  He said it was not right to take party lines when discussing issues. “It doesn’t look good in the eye of the public,” he said.

Bumdeling-Jamkhar MP Dubthob said that almost two years have gone by after the government was formed, and that many pledges have not been fulfilled.  He said that the people voted based on the pledges and they were hopeful of them being fulfilled.

“If the pledges aren’t fulfilled, there’s a possibility that the people’s respect for the democracy will fade,” Dubthob said. “The pledges, although not legally binding, are like social contract between the voter and the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government reiterated its promise to fulfil all the pledges during its tenure.  The finance minister, Namgay Dorji, said the government has kept aside Nu 146M (million) in the next financial year for importing utility vans.  He also said that helicopters services would also be launched by the end of this year. “If possible, we’ll be doing that in commemoration of the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in November this year.”

He said that the government was working hard to fulfil the pledges, and that it was not possible to fulfil all the pledges in one or two years. “If all the pledges are fulfilled in the first year, what will we do in the next four years?” he said.

Even though sourcing budget was a daunting task for the government, he said, all the promises would be fulfilled.

He also highlighted the government’s achievements, including the salary raise and electricity subsidy the government has provided to rural households.

The home and cultural minister, Damcho Dorji, said about 205 power tillers have been provided in all the gewogs as part of the government’s promise to distribute a power tiller each in every chiwog.   The government will also provide a power tiller each in every gewogs within the year.

Additionally, in 2016 and 2017, the government hopes to provide a power tiller each to all 1,044 chiwogs, besides the ones it has already given to the gewogs. “The government of Japan has assured us to help us,” he said.

Works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, said that Nu 2.5B (billion) had been kept aside to blacktop 52 gewog centre roads and that the work in 15 gewogs had already commenced.  She said that the government had prepared a project to blacktop the gewog centre roads, as it was a priority for the government.

Lyonpo Dorji Choden said almost all gewog center roads would be hopefully blacktopped in the next three financial years.

MB Subba