Oppn. questions govt.’s proposal to endorse 12th Plan

The Opposition Party will not sit in the Parliament to endorse the 12th Plan should the special sitting of the Parliament convenes.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay recently said that said the government would ask the Speaker to convene a special sitting before its term expires in August 2018.

During a recent Meet The Press session, the prime minister said that the current government wants to finalise the 12th Plan and allocate budget for the first fiscal year of the Plan.

Although the next government will possibly take office by October or November 2018, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the next government could actually hit the ground running instantly.

“It’s our responsibility to pass the 12th Plan and budget of the first fiscal year of the Plan,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition Pema Gyamtsho (Phd) said having an 11th session of the Parliament to discuss the 12th Plan will undermine the very principle of providing a level playing field and fair campaigning platform to the other parties and will unduly favour the ruling party.

“The government may resort to claiming ownership of the Plan and persuade voters to vote for them or risk jeopardising what would be a populist plan,” Pema Gyamtsho said.

He said that the Prime Minister has the prerogative to  recommend the dissolution of the government earlier and if the timely passage of the 12th Plan and Annual Budget 2018-19 is of serious concern as claimed, he should exercise this prerogative so that the election process could be completed latest by July.

“Unlike in the past term, members of the NA are entitled to all the retirement benefits as per the amended NA Act even if the five years term is not fully completed,” the Opposition Leader said.

If the government’s proposal to decide the 12th Plan goes ahead, it would handicap the incoming government from reconciling its pledges with an already ‘approved’ plan and budget, he said.

Once the Parliament passes them, they can only be ratified by it and hence the actual implementation of the Plan may materialise only the following year.

The Prime Minister said that his government was formed towards the end of July during which period the 11th Plan was supposed to be finalised. He said that the Plan started late and there were delays.

However, the Opposition Leader said it was untrue.

“It is not true that the present government didn’t have the resources to implement the 11th Plan,” he said. “What is true was that there was not enough resources to cover the financing of all the freebies, exemptions and subsidies that this government embarked upon in line with their populist promises.”

He said the government’s claim that they would be able to mobilise the resources for the 12th Plan is unrealistic and misleading.

“If the government insists on having an 11th Session for discussing and finalising the 12th FYP as an agenda, the Opposition Party may have to sit it out,” Pema Gyamtsho said.

Gross National Happiness Commission secretary Thinley Namgyel said the plan finalisation and implementation is the prerogative of the government of the day.

He said that the intention of the current government is to finalise the Plan so that it could be implemented from the very first year and that time is not lost preparing and finalising the plan.

“It is for the government of the day to decide whether to take forward the plan prepared by the old government or prepare an entirely new plan,” Thinley Namgyel said.

Five-year plans are government’s prerogative, he said. “If the plan is not aligned to the government of the day’s mandate on the basis of which they were elected, they can change it.”

The Constitution states that if the budget is not approved by the National Assembly before the beginning of the fiscal year, the preceding budget on current expenses shall be applied until the new one is sanctioned.

Tshering Palden

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