The cabinet members

Meet the new Cabinet

The first order of business for the new government would be to get everyone on board, incorporate the pledges of all political parties and work on a common vision for the country, the vision 2045.

Prime Minister elect Dr Lotay Tshering said the party has been asking for togetherness and while it has campaigned for change, the government would not do anything and everything just for the sake of change.

“We will invite the political parties and for the next five years, whatever major decisions the government will be taking, it will be done in consultation with all political parties and stakeholders. No political parties will be left behind,” he said. “If there is a wound in the country, we have to do anything to heal that wound.”

The Prime Minister elect shared this with the media on November 3, at a press conference that was called to announce the Cabinet ministers. Dr Lotay Tshering said that in selecting the cabinet minsters, one main criterion was to ensure a Cabinet that functioned beyond the norm, and pursued and delivered change for better. “Change must come from within,” he said.

In putting together the team, he said it was a painful process to choose members from a competent lot. To ensure regional balance, besides the Prime Minister,   the cabinet has three representatives each from West, South and East and one from central Bhutan.  He said the portfolio has been assigned considering individual competencies and personal proficiencies, and not necessarily because of their educational or professional background.

The press release states that for the first time, a medical professional is at the helm of governance, the youngest cabinet minister is 32 years old and the oldest is 63. Four cabinet members are in their 40s, while three each are in the 30s and 50s.

The oldest among the cabinet members, Mongar constituency’s MP elect and former Dzongkha Development Commission secretary, Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen, 63, is the home and culture affairs minster.

Former National Council Member from Gelephu constituency in Sarpang, Karma Donnen Wangdi, 47, is the minister for information and communications.

The MP elect for Dophuchen_Tading in Samtse, Loknath Sharma, 47, who has a masters in economics from Allahabad University, India is the minister for economic affairs. He was a community service worker and the former regional head of Road Safety and Transport authority.

Radhi_Sakteng’s MP elect from Trashigang Dorji Tshering, 39, is the only cabinet member to return to an agency he last served. The former executive engineer for department of roads is the minister for works and human settlement. “We wanted a representation from Sakteng in the cabinet,” Dr Lotay Tsheirng said.

Nubi_Tangsibji’s MP elect from Trongsa, Yeshey Penjor, 54, is the minister for agriculture and forests. He has over three decades of experience in environment conservation and climate change.

Former desk officer at the foreign ministry, Ugyen Dorji, 32, from Thrimshing, Trashigang is the youngest cabinet minister. Dr Lotay Tshering said Ugyen Dorji has done well wherever he worked and now has an opportunity to set an example. He is the minister for labour and human resources. “He forego the chance to work in Dhaka embassy,” Dr Lotay Tshering said.

MP elect from Phuentsholing, Chukha, Jai Bir Rai, 45, has been with DNT since 2013.  Dr Lotay Tshering said he was one of the two DNT candidates to win the 2013 primaries. JB Rai is an expert in finance and because he has the potential to do more, he was assigned the ministry of education.

The former planning officer with the health ministry and MP elect for Dokar_Sharpa, Pao, Namgay Tshering is the minister for finance. Dr Lotay Tshering said, he was among the last candidate to join DNT and soon after submitting his resignation, he was in the field meeting people. “He garnered good support in a month’s time, something that we couldn’t do in five years.”

Referring her as the feather in the cap, Dr Lotay Tshering said that North Thimphu’s MP elect, Dechen Wangmo, 42, is the minister for health. She has a masters in public health from Yale University and has worked closely with the health ministry in the past. “It is not necessary to have a doctor as a minister,” Dr Lotay Tshering said.

One of the founders of DNT, former party president, a paediatrician with a masters in international public health and MBA, Dr Tandi Dorji, 50, is among the few doctors with such qualification, said the prime minister elect.  Dr Tandi Dorji, the party spokesperson, is the foreign minister.

The DNT press release states that the idea behind the assignment of the portfolios was to pull someone out of the comfort zone and have someone who injected fresh perspective, without preconceived notions.

In assuming the responsibilities, the team has drawn up a common understanding that it is not about power and privileges but about motivation, sacrifice and team work. The Prime Minister elect has also made it clear that if the current Cabinet does not perform, the rest of the ruling representatives are as competent to step in at any point of time, the press release states.

“We will always be guided by His Majesty’s vision,” Dr Lotay Tshering said. “We trust the wisdom and efficiency of our civil servants. We look forward to working together with the people of Bhutan. With your support and guidance, we will be able to achieve the aspirations of all Bhutanese and the dreams of Bhutan.”

At the press conference, Dr Lotay Tshering said the government would not waste a single minute thinking about the next election. “If the media tend to pick up anything that we are doing for the sake of winning 2023, please blame us. We will only work for this country. We will only work for Bhutan. But we will be ready to take any unpopular decision if it has to be taken.”

Dr Lotay Tshering asked the media for responsible reporting and said the government would be open to constructive criticism. “We will support the media; we will also need the media’s support and we are hopeful of working together.”

The party spokesperson Dr Tandi Dorji said the government would continue to hold the monthly meet the press sessions.

Sonam Pelden 

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