Although the government’s pledge to provide vehicle quota to each household was “shot down” by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the pledge is still on.

Lyonchhen, however, said there were many other important and pressing issues the government needs to look into first and once these completes, the government would review the vehicle quota system and if need be implement it.

“We were passionate about the pledge to provide vehicle quota to each household but following a legal reason, the pledge was shot down by the ECB,” Lyonchhen said at the Friday meet on February 8. “We didn’t realise that we can’t pledge in-between of an on-going campaign during election period.”

The issue came up on September 24 last year after candidates of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) pledged vehicle quota for each household during their debates. TheECB on September 26 sent an email to the general secretaries of the two parties contesting the general round to ask them to remind their candidates to campaign on what was prescribed in their manifestos.

DNT had pledged on its official Facebook page during the campaign to revamp existing vehicle quota provision for civil servants.

The party had pledged that instead of the Nu 800,000 blanket ceiling every seven years at touching grade six, civil servants would benefit a raised quota of Nu 1.5M at the completion of first 10 years of service. DNT pledged to increase this ceiling to Nu 2M after serving for 10-20 years, Nu 3M between 30 and 40 years and up to Nu 4M for a service term spanning 40 years.

It had also pledged that the same facility would be extended to corporations so long as employees serve for more than 10 years in a particular organization to have better retention of experiences in corporations.

This pledge was however, not stated in the copies of the manifesto that DNT submitted to the election commission along with its letter of intent or those shared with the media.

“We had kept that as a additional package if we get through general round but it was shot down later,” Lyonchhen said. “Nonetheless, we will review this, see wherever it is required and offer.”

However, he said, the government may not be able to raise this pledge. “It was shot down as a pledge but should this come through, we don’t have budget allocated for this,” he said. “But the government doesn’t need to keep extra budget for this. It needs to give policy directives and changes.”

Lyonchhen said that the idea behind this pledge was to let every family own a car but one that would come with several conditions.

“First car for the family will be tax free, second car will be taxed doubled from the first car, and the third car would be taxed triple,” Lyonchhen said. “It means to say that your first car will be cheap, second will be expensive than first and third would be unimaginable.”

Lyonchhen said that today many families have more than one car and implementing such measures would benefit families without.

“We could not explain this in detail earlier because we respected ECB’s legal issue, we had to withdrew,” he said. “Now we are the government and if we feel this is necessary and do more good, then we will come up with it.”

Yangchen C Rinzin