NA votes to keep common minimum infrastructure budget with dzongkhag administration 

Yangchen C Rinzin 

Unsure of the capacity of gewog administrations, the National Assembly yesterday rejected the motion to allocate gewog common minimum infrastructure (CMI) budget directly to the gewog administration. 

Moving the motion, Bartsham-Shongphu Member of Parliament Passang Dorji said that the Nu 7.855 billion (B) allocated for CMI in the 12th Plan should be given directly to the gewogs from the next fiscal year. 

MP Passang Dorji said that the CMI budget is currently being handled by the dzongkhag administration and the release of the budget is processed through the usual tendering process. 

“This process was often time-consuming and expensive. In some gewogs, the plans are also set by the dzongkhags,” MP said. “While in some gewogs the CMI budget has remained unused.”

MP Passang Dorji said that if CMI budget is allocated directly to gewogs, CMI activities can be expedited and works executed efficiently. The works are usually delayed when kept with dzongkhag administration, he said. 

“Although the budget is kept with dzongkhag administration, the engineers and accountants designated to respective gewogs are the ones to execute and manage the CMI budget,” MP Passang Dorji said. 

“This is why it is not correct to say that the gewog administration lacks the capacity to manage the CMI budget. The dzongkhag looking after the budget only adds to bureaucracy.” 

This, he said, would also align with government’s policy to handover gewog centre roads to respective gewogs and gewogs would gain autonomy in planning and priority-setting. 

MP Passang said that allocating the budget to the gewogs would increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of CMI allocation, better performance and delivery of government, financial empowerment of local governments, and faster budgetary support. 

Of the Nu 50B capital grant allocated for local government, Nu 11B is for CMI, of which Nu 3,019M is for dzongkhags, Nu 7,855M for gewogs, and Nu 126M for class A thromdes in the 12th Plan. 

MP Passang Dorji said that the allocation for CMI of dzongkhags including dzongkhag thromdes and yenlag thromdes should remain with dzongkhag administration. 

However, with 19 No votes and seven abstainers of the 44 members present, the House rejected the motion. Most of the members said that the proposal needed a detailed review and study in 205 gewogs before handing over the budget. 

The members said it would be imperative to keep the budget with dzongkhags until then and ensure gewog administrations have enough human resources to handle the budget.

Home Minister Sherab Gyeltshen said that the ministry is already looking into the distribution of CMI budget. “We do support the motion but for now we’ve kept with dzongkhags owing to lack of human resources. The review is important to ensure the budget is not underutilised.”

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that he cannot support to handover the CMI budget immediately. “However, the government is already looking into handover slowly after the review.”