Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) is seeking budget to make up for the clerical mistake it made to blacktop the Chunzomsa-Baylangdra feeder road in Wangdue.

The ministry had proposed a budget of Nu 130 million (M) for the road, the take-up point for the roads to the three gewogs of Nisho, Kazhi, and Phangyuel that are already blacktopped.

When the Parliament endorsed the national budget for financial year 2017-2018, Nu 130M was included in the road sector activity under the Government of India (GoI) funding.

The Department of National Budget later informed the ministry that this particular activity was not under the GoI funding, neither was the budget allocated to blacktop this road, and that it was mistakenly reflected in the budget proposal.

People of the three gewogs said that they felt betrayed by the government.

Kazhi Gup Wangdi said people are not aware how the mistake happened, but both the prime minister and the member of parliament during their visit to the gewog informed the people that the road would be blacktopped. “This had brought some hope to the people.”

The 22-km feeder road benefits more than 4,000 people in the three gewogs, including devotees that come on pilgrimage to Baylangdra Nye.

MoWHS’ director of directorate services, Dhak Tshering, said that it was the ministry’s mistake made while proposing budget and not the fault of the finance ministry or the government.

Dhak Tshering explained that when a budget is proposed, each regional office submits a proposal to the Department of Roads (DoR). The headquarters then verifies the proposal based on the capital ceiling given by the finance ministry and submit proposal to the ministry, which is later approved by the Parliament.

“Usually, before submitting the final proposal, agencies will discuss budget that are under government funding but do not verify an activity if it is under donor funding,” he said. “In this particular activity, discussion was missed out because it was listed under the GoI, which is usually approved,” said Dhak Tshering.

Dhak Tshering said when finance ministry discusses budget of each agency with different agencies, including the Gross National Happiness Commission, it is taken for granted that donor funds would be made available and further discussion usually does not take place.

“We discuss activities under government funding more because once approved by the Parliament, we’ve to make sure the fund is available,” he said, adding that in this case, blacktopping of Chunzomsa-Baylangdra road activity was overlooked. Only later, when the budget was endorsed by the Parliament and when the approved budget was released to the agencies, did the finance ministry find that the financing item code (FIC) was put against the activity that was never there in the GoI-funded plan.

“So, we’ve to treat this as zero budget and, in fact, we didn’t have any plan for this road. This is how the status is right now,” said Dhak Tshering. “It was our mistake that we didn’t look into the proposal or check the FIC. The regional office while proposing the budget had by mistake clicked on the donor FIC and nobody realised it until the finance ministry pointed out.”

Dhak Tshering said the ministry was now trying every possible way to arrange budget to take up blacktopping project for Chunzomsa-Baylangdra road road.

“Since it is not possible to blacktop the whole 22km, we would take up about 12km, which would give access to three gewogs. The estimated fund required is Nu 36M,” he said. “We hope to award the work by January, but the work would definitely spill over to the next Plan.”

Yangchen C Rinzin