Lyonchoen is in the east on his tour of the gewogs

Government: Villagers of Nanong gewog questioned Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on several issues related to pledges and taxes, during his meeting with the people of Nanong and Zobel gewogs, on January 16.

The Prime Minister is currently in Pemagatshel after completing his eastern tour in Trashigang.

A Nanong villager questioned the Prime Minister on whether the 100 units of electricity are really free. “We don’t understand if it is a miscommunication between the government and service provider because now our bill comes more than before,” he said. “We use electricity for rice cooker, boiler, to charge our mobile phone, and light the house,” he added. “Will all these really consume 100 units in a month?,” he asked.

He added that if this was to happen then it should have remained the same because at least their bill would not be as expensive. He said that many are confused about the “free” 100 units of electricity.

Another villager asked why the government had applied a five percent tax on mobile services and if it could be removed. “Although mobile connectivity has reached and everyone uses mobile, we need voucher,” he said. “And even when we don’t have money we’ve to recharge but five percent is deducted.”

One of the farmers also requested a bypass road from Nanong to Dechi where Pemagatshel dzong would be established including the district court. The farmer said they have to travel about 30km to the present dzong and in future it would be even further from their gewog.

A need for better B-Mobile connectivity and television network were also raised by the villagers, who added that their complaints have gone unheeded for years.

Responding to questions, works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, who is accompanying the Prime Minister explained this was the first time they were hearing about the electricity bill issue. The minister said electricity must be being used for other purposes other than electric appliances.

But the minister added that the issue would be examined if it is true.

“Although the bypass must be important for you all, we have to look at other needy ones who could be in dire need,” she said. “At least you all have an option as of now but we’ll go accordingly based on priority.”

The Prime Minister asked the dzongdag to determine if the five percent mobile service tax cannot be afforded. Lyonchoen said that the government cannot impose a tax that the people cannot afford. He also pointed out to the people that it’s a small tax that goes into government’s revenue.

“If a person uses Nu 200 voucher in a month, only Nu 10 will imposed as tax,” he said. “If a person can buy a Nu 200 voucher, I don’t think it would be hard for people to pay Nu 10 in tax.”

Lyonchoen said that Nu 8.24 million has been allocated for the 2015-2016 budget for Zobel gewog which translates to the government spending Nu 20,615 per household. Zobel has a population of 3,520.

A total of Nu 9.68 million has been approved for Nanong gewog which has 4,757 households and translating to Nu 16,380 per household.

“This is important to let you all know about the budget and where or how it was utilized,” lyonchoen said. “Don’t worry about budget, it’s the government’s responsibility to arrange the budget.”

Lyonchoen also said a new system has been formed where each minister looks after two dzongkhags so that they can keep track of a dzongkhag’s developmental activities. “Pemagatshel will be looked after by lyonpo Dorji Choden who chose the dzongkhag by herself,” he said. “So, if there are any issues or problems you can inform the minister.”

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel