Q-Hour: The meet-the-people programme that the government initiated since August 2013 is not for People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supporters, but mainly for people from the low-income group, according to Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.
Panbang representative Dorji Wangdi questioned the programme, and asked lyonchoen if it was meant only for PDP supporters at the question hour session on May 19.
Lyonchoen said the programme was for people who need help. “I never said that it was for PDP supporters. The Panbang representative should justify,” lyonchoen said.
Dorji Wangdi said the government initiated the programme as pledged, but became the meet-the-PDP supporters programme, especially after the 20th session, when the prime minister said that it was not the government’s initiative but a party pledge.
Providing the status of the programme, lyonchoen said more than 1,000 people visited them so far, of which the government tried to redress about 60 percent of the cases by writing to the relevant agencies. The rest were kidu related cases. “We don’t need a separate programme for our supporters, as they have direct access to us.”
People, who attended the programme, lyonchoen said, were not required to show their citizenship identity cards to be treated differently. “In fact, we even had Druk Phuensum Tshogpa supporters and members visiting us, who were treated without any bias.”
The government started the meet-the-people programme, mainly to provide opportunity for citizens to freely interact with the prime minister and cabinet ministers without seeking formal appointments, and share their views and feedback on government performance especially regarding the delivery of public services.
After the venue was changed to the PDP office at Olakha, the opposition sought clarification from the prime minister last June during a question hour session at the National Assembly. Lyonchoen then said that programme was not a government initiative but a party pledge.
“Whether it’s organised in PDP office or anywhere else, it shouldn’t be a problem for people,” lyonchoen had said then.
There are mixed responses from those who attended the programme. Some felt there were no results, while others said it was a good platform to interact with ministers, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. The programme is one of the government’s 100-day pledges.
The PDP manifesto states the cabinet would dedicate at least a day in the weekend to meet the people. It states the party would initiate this programme, so that the top leadership would be abreast of people’s problems and ensure transparency in governance.
Bumdeling-Jamkhar representative, Dupthob asked the information and communications minister on the government’s decision of not allowing import of vehicles to be used as taxis, despite the prime minister’s commitment to allow import of new taxis as replacement of old ones.
“This is a serious concern as it’s a direct contradiction to the Constitution that bestows on every citizen the fundamental right to practise lawful trade or profession,” Dupthob said.
Information and communications minister, DN Dhungyel, thanked Dupthob for the question, citing that it was an important issue, but said he should have done some background check before raising it.
Except for Thimphu and Phuentsholing, lyonpo said import of new taxis in the rest of the districts is allowed. “We’d announced about six months ago that those completing nine years would be allowed to import new taxis,” lyonpo said.
For Thimphu and Phuentsholing, lyonpo said, as there were excess taxis, the ministry was studying whether there was a requirement for more taxis in the two thromdes.
Lyonpo also said that, as of 2013, there were 5,185 vehicles registered as taxis in the country, but upon physical verification to confirm the exact number of taxis in business, it was found that there were 3,802 taxis operational.
As of 2013, the term of taxis were eight years and it was made to nine years in 2014. This year, 130 taxis would complete eight years, while a majority would complete nine years by 2019, 2020 and 2021.
“It’s up to the taxi drivers what kind of vehicles they want to buy. The government hasn’t made it mandatory for them to buy electric vehicles,” lyonpo said.
By Kinga Dema