The National Council (NC) yesterday unanimously adopted the annual budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 recommending budget allocation for crop and livestock compensation to farmers.

Chairman of the economic affairs committee, Anand Rai, said that the Endowment Fund for Crop and Livestock Conservation was yet to mature and that the government should allocate funds in the annual budget specifically for compensation of livestock and crop damage.

Established in 2017, the endowment fund to compensate farmers for crop and livestock damage caused by natural calamities stood at Nu 90.865 million (M) as of March 31, 2021.

However, the fund, which has been parked in the current deposit account maintained with Bank of Bhutan (BOB) is yet to be operationalised.

The recommendations also include allocating adequate budget for the ongoing construction of the secondary national highway from Jyenkhana to Sombayka in Haa. The committee chairperson stated that the annual budget had no money allocated for the highway.

The house also wants allocation of adequate budget for addressing social issues.

Anand Rai said that social issues, including suicides, drug addiction and underage sex, were increasing by the year and that it was important for the government to make budget allocations to address the issues.

The NC also recommended ensuring the legal framework for the mining sector in line with the Constitution.

Anand Rai said that the revenue from the mining sector had increased after the transfer of mines from the private sector to the State Mining Corporation Ltd. (SMCL). “The SMCL is doing a great job now,” he said, hinting that the legal framework suggested by the House included formalising the transfer of mines to the state-owned enterprise.

The transfer of some of the mines to SMCL was temporary, according to officials from the economic affairs ministry.

The House also unanimously adopted the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2020-21 along with the recommendation to the government to set a clear and specific non-performing loan (NPL) target ratio. The current target is to maintain NPL below 24 percent, which the NC said was high.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the National Assembly, which has the prerogative of accepting them as Money Bills.

By MB Subba 

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk