Assembly: In the Question Hour session yesterday, Opposition Leader (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said although the opposition feels that the recently established Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd (REDCL) is illegal it will not take the issue to court.
The erstwhile Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC) was dissolved after questions on its legality were raised. However, a new company with the same mandates, REDCL was formed.
The opposition pointed out that if BOiC was illegal, REDCL should be illegal too. The opposition leader also questioned the rationale behind closing BOiC if the government did not accept that it was illegal.
“If BOiC was illegal, why not REDCL?” he asked. However, he said the opposition would not take the issue to court. “That is not our responsibility.”
The opposition has repeatedly questioned the establishment of BoIC and REDCL both in Parliament and other platforms.
He also lamented that a lot of money has been spent on the establishment of BOiC and REDCL. However, the government has maintained that both REDCL and BOiC are legal institutions.
Foreign minister and officiating Prime Minister, Damcho Dorji, said BOiC has benefited the people economically. According to him, the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) was also convinced that BoIC was legal.
“During our discussions with the RMA, which is an independent body, they said the establishment of BoIC was in harmony with relevant laws,” he said.
Nu 5 billion (B) from the Government of India’s Nu 45 billion 11th Five-Year Plan assistance was allocated for the establishment and operation of BoIC. “It was an economic stimulus project,” he said.
Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said the government felt it was necessary to set up an institution like BoIC to revive and stimulate the economy. The establishment of BOiC has enabled all people including the poor to get credit facilities, he said.
“So far, 2,352 projects have been approved, and Nu 198 million (M) has been given as loans,” he said. He added that jobs have been created, benefiting the economy.
However, the foreign minister said that BoIC had to be dissolved due to controversies surrounding its legality, which according to him affected the functioning of the institution. He said REDCL was necessary to give continuity to the services provided by BOiC.
However, Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said BOiC stood in contravention with the Constitution and the civil service Act among other laws. He said using financial assistance from a foreign government as recurrent expenditure is unconstitutional.
He also said that BOiC was operated without a license from the RMA. The Panbang MP also said civil service recruitment rules should have been followed if BOiC was a government institution.
Finance minister Namgay Dorji said the RMA has granted the license and that if REDCL and BOiC were illegal the RMA wouldn’t have issued the license. He said he didn’t see any need to discuss the legality of REDCL any more.
He said REDCL has so far approved 236 projects and provided loans amounting to Nu 256M.