Dr Lotay Tshering is the first prime minister to move into the Lhengye Dhensa at Motithang, the official residence of Cabinet ministers.

The government’s spokesperson and foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that all the ministers including the prime minister have moved into the official residence.

“The prime minister will live in the enclave,” he said.

Two former prime ministers – Dasho Jigmi Y Thinley and Dasho Tshering Tobgay – chose to stay in their private residence.

Prime minister is entitled to a monthly house rent allowance of Nu 54,000 should he choose to stay in his private house. This means that the prime minister’s decision to stay in the official residence would save Nu 648,000 annually or a total of Nu 3.24 million in five years.

Opposition leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said he would be moving into the Lhengye Dhensa.

Cabinet ministers, the Opposition Leader and the Speaker may decide to live in private houses and they are entitled to a monthly house rent allowance of Nu 39,000 if they do so. They won’t be eligible for the house rent allowance if they choose stay in their official residence.

The lump sum house rent allowances for the prime minister and ministers were revised in July 2014 by the previous government.

The prime minister’s decision to reside in the official residence will help him avoid the issues arising from security arrangements his predecessors faced. Providing security arrangements at the private residence entail additional costs for the government.

Upon a Cabinet decision in 2015, the then government built a security compound wall and houses for security personnel at former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s private residence in Taba at the cost of Nu 2.959 million.

However, the former prime minister had to immediately refund the money after objections from the Royal Audit Authority. He also requested the ACC to investigate him on the issue in an effort to clear any doubts of misuse of the government funds for construction works at his private residence.

The security arrangement provided to former ministers also became a political issue as the National Assembly elections approached earlier this year.

The then Opposition claimed that the former prime minster had lived in his private residence although he had the option to stay in the Lhengye Dhensa.

MB Subba