… vehicle quota to be discontinued

Thukten Zangpo

The National Assembly members yesterday supported providing designated vehicles for MPs.

The House supported the Economic and Finance Committee’s proposal to provide a designated duty vehicle to level Ex-3 and above including the MPs, however, until reviewed and rationalised by the government.

Members were also in favour of the Committee’s recommendation that the MPs who have availed the vehicle import quota and vehicle purchase allowance under the Pay Revision Act of Bhutan 2019 shall have the option to opt for the designated duty vehicle upon reimbursing such proportionate amount as remaining until the completion of the five-year term.

The MPs were not entitled to designated vehicles as per the draft Pay Structure and Reform Bill 2022.

The Bill included designated vehicles for civil servants at the existing position level of EX-3 and above, including the prime minister, cabinet ministers and equivalent positions, until reviewed and rationalised by the government.

By endorsing the entitlement, the House does away with the MPs’ entitlement of driver allowance of Nu 10,000 per month and fuel and maintenance allowance of Nu 10,000 per month, which was proposed by the draft Bill.

The House also did not support the draft Bill’s proposal of a lump sum vehicle purchases allowance of Nu 1 million (M) prorated at Nu 16,665 per month.

Deputy Chairperson of the Committee and MP of Chhoekhor-Tang, Dawa said that the MPs are entitled to the designated duty vehicles as a fringe benefit.

Not supporting the Committee’s proposal, Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi said that 58 new vehicles have to be purchased for MPs, which would incur huge costs to the country.   

He added that providing a lump sum of 1M for vehicle purchase comes to about Nu 58M. However, buying a vehicle costing Nu 3.6M each by MPs would come to around Nu 208M.

Similarly, Bartsham-Shongphu MP, Passang Dorji said that the number of designated vehicles has to be reduced to minimise the government’s expenditure.

Rather than having additional designated vehicles, the existing ones have to be cut down, he added.

Khamaed-Lunana MP, Yeshey Dem also said that there are concerns raised on social media on the increasing misuse of government pool vehicles.

Chhumig-Ura MP, Karma Wangchuk suggested discontinuing the designated vehicles for all, including prime ministers, ministers and heads of the constitutional offices and other civil servants.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that there is a provision that the government can review and rationalise designated vehicles that could help for phase-wise lifting and monetising.

He said that there are 2,279 government pool vehicles of which 406 are designated vehicles, and about 400 are ambulances and Royal Bhutan Police vehicles.

Lyonpo added that there are sunk costs associated with the pool vehicles, since an equal number of drivers have to be designated, including maintenance and fuel costs.

He added that the vehicle allowance of Nu 1M lump sum could be provided to those who can buy and prorated per month of Nu 16,665 per month to those who cannot.

The House also supported doing away with the vehicle quota or monetised amount of Nu 1.5M and 0.25M for all public servants from July next year.

However, the House retained the Committee’s proposal that stated the vehicle quota provided to those public servants who are eligible before July 1 of next year and the public servants who had availed vehicle quota under the Pay Revision Act of Bhutan 2019 until claimed.

The government has stopped monetising vehicle quotas for two years and the import of vehicles is temporarily suspended now. The finance minister said that the ministry is deferring the quota date.