At the question hour session Monday, Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) asked the government about the grievances faced by the applicants whose Rural Enterprise Development Corporation (REDCL) loan applications were not approved.

As per the Public Account Committee report, of the total 7, 230 REDCL loan applications received until May, 3,467 applications were approved. The highest, 460 projects, were approved from Paro and the least, six projects, from Gasa.

OL said that the applicants have raised their disappointment and dissatisfaction after spending a huge amount on project preparation. “Neither were their loans approved nor did they receive refund. How much did the government refund to those applicants whose projects were not approved?”

He said that Opposition requested the government not to intervene and start the task that can be done by financial institutions. “There could be many inconveniences. Firstly, we did not see it as legal and the institution might be politicised in the future.”

Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said the economy was satisfactory in 2013. He claimed that the start of economic stimulus package with a financial assistance of Nu 5,000 million from India helped open loans and import of cars. The minister added the government started with Revolving fund (RF) I and II to strengthen the economy.

“The fund size of RF II in the past was the highest at Nu 100,000. However, for the benefit of people the fund was increased to Nu 500,000 on February 21, 2017. About Nu 220 million was spent to start about 151 business projects under RF I from October 2014 to 2016,” said Lekey Dorji.

He said the number of applications approved by BOiC was 1,062 and the loan given was about Nu 95.8 million based on RF II. REDCL approved about 1,495 applications with loan amount of Nu 223.9 million.

The total expenditure to date on RF I is Nu 561 million and about Nu 319.8 million on RF II, according to the minister.

He added that the parliament discussion on the legality of REDCL created fear and division among people. “Some claimed that the loan was approved based on the party they support. This further caused division among the people. We need to understand that there was no focus on rural development and because of BOiC and REDCL we could provide loans to every corner of rural areas.”

The Economic affairs minister on BOiC complaints said both Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Attorney General carried out investigations and cleared of no corruption and politicisation. “Those found in violation were fined accordingly,” said Lekey Dorji.

Citing the example of Samrang mega farm in Samdrupcholing, OL said the government has taken away the opportunity from farmers to come up with such projects.

“I feel that the people have the potential to come up with such initiatives, which they had been doing. There was nothing new in the initiative made by the government,” said the Opposition Leader.