At the eve of the elections, parties would be desperate to say things to catch the confidence of the people or in this case undermine other political parties, the outgoing Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay said at the last meet the press session on August 9 in Thimphu.
He was responding to the statements the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) made earlier at its convention and press conference on the performance of the out going government.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay reiterated to the media to verify the figures stated by the government through experts and institutions such as the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), and department of macroeconomic affairs. “I am presenting the state of the nation report to not less than His Majesty The King, the honorable members in the parliament, and the people of Bhutan. And if you think I am going to lie, then I think you don’t have a good understanding of the sacredness of the state of the nation report.”
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that at the end of the 11th Plan, convertible currency (CC) was Nu 831.93M, Nu 100M more than convertible currency USD 726.7M in 2013.
He added that the INR reserve was INR 18,148.43M, which totaled to USD 1,096.23M currency reserve in June 2018. At the end of June 2013, the total currency reserve was at USD 916.9M. “In the state of the nation report, I used the latest information I got from the finance ministry.”
Talks of loans getting out of control are also spreading in the country, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said. “We have said that hydropower loans have grown but non-hydropower loans have decreased by Nu 4B.”
Some of the opposition members, he said, have been saying that the helicopters and power tillers were bought through loans, which is not true.
“But they insist on making our people worried by saying that if we divide the loan, each person will have to pay Nu 400,000. This is the reason why during our convention we said these are lies. Not untruth but outright lies.”
DPT’s Vice President Dorji Wangdi at the party’s convention said that overall unemployment rate had increased from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent, youth unemployment from 9.6 percent to 13.2 percent.
The youth unemployment rate was according to the draft Labour Force Survey Report (LFSR) 2016.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that the opposition had used the worst figure while PDP has used the comprehensive figure. The Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB) 2017 states that youth unemployment rate is at 10.6 percent. “PHCB is the most comprehensive because every one was counted. The opposition wants to paint a very bleak figure of rampant unemployment and you should look objectively.”
Dasho Tshering Tobgay further added that PDP had perhaps not achieved everything in terms of employment but achieving 100 percent employment for youth all time is neither possible nor desirable.
“Because finding a job requires a transition period, full employment isn’t possible,” he said.
PDP claimed to have created thousands of jobs through corporate, and private sectors.
“Because many of them are not attractive enough, we have created opportunities to work outside and they are taking them. When we have thousands of youth working outside, how can we say unemployment is growing?”
He added that the government also spent about Nu 1.2B as subsidy for salaries of the graduates, class 12 students, and school dropouts.
DPT’sVice President Dorji Wangdi had also claimed that the PDP government had been dishonest and corrupt.
Dasho Tshering Tobgay said PDP had taken action for any perceived corruption.
Citing an example, he said that when he was charged with conflict of interest in the electric car issue, he requested ACC to conduct an investigation. “When the opposition talked about my security wall, I requested ACC to conduct investigation.” Although the government stepped down, he added that corruption would not be tolerated.
Central schools and corporatisation of JDWNRH
On concerns regarding the shutting down of schools with the establishment of central schools, Dasho Tshering Tobgay said it was stated in the state of the nation report that the schools would not be shut down.
On the issue of corporatisation of JDWNRH, he said that the government had only wanted to give more authority to the hospital and had no plans to charge people with hospital services.
“The opposition purposely misconstrued and said the government is going to charge. Charging for health services is a sure way to lose the election and since they are politicians, they know this and perpetuating the lies,” he said. “Even if you don’t believe our principles, at least believe that we are politicians. The moment people were uncomfortable with corporatisation, we took a decision at the Cabinet not to proceed. We said that the debate was not necessary but they insisted because this was a political mileage.”
He added that the media also denied believing this.