The National Assembly disapproved the motion to deposit budget directly in gewog’s account instead of the dzongkhag’s during deliberations on petitions from the local government, yesterday.
Of the 45 Members of Parliament, 13 voted for the motion and 32 voted against.
Panbang Member of Parliament Dorji Wangdi, on behalf of local governments in Zhemgang submitted the petition.
He said that while the responsibility of preparing and planning for any Small Development Projects (SDP), Common Minimum Infrastructure (CMI) and flagship programme remains with the gewog administration, the budgets allocated for the programmes were given to the dzongkhags or retained by the central government. “This is causing delays in work progress and inefficient use of the budget,” he said.
“Therefore, the local governments submitted that the budgets for the development programmes be directly provided in gewog’s account instead of the dzongkhag’s account during the annual budget appropriation,” the MP said.
In response, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said budgets that are kept with the dzongkhags are for SDP and CMI projects as these development projects require international financial support and other technical support which, the 205 gewogs do not have currently.
Lyonchhen also said that as these projects need adequate human resource support and frequent consultation with the central government, it is convenient to maintain the budget with the dzongkhag administrations.
“As gewogs are part of the dzongkhag, I don’t see any problem with dzongkhag coordinating and distributing the financial resources,” he said.
He also said that about Nu 12 billion from domestic revenue was already distributed to the gewogs. “And from the current plan budget, Nu 19.8B was provided to the gewogs, Nu 20B to dzongkhags and Nu 10B was provided to four thromdes.”
Lyonchhen said that he supports the importance of decentralising local government. “But without adequate human resources to handle the responsibility of the budget in the gewogs, the government is concerned that the resources may not be used efficiently.”
With the government in the process of addressing the issue, Lyonchhen said that decentralisation would happen gradually.
While the members of the House recognised a need to provide the budgets to the gewog administrations, they agreed that the local governments should have adequate human resources and technical capacity to handle the budget.