What is a temporary budget?
It’s about saving. How are we doing it?
Every Bhutanese citizen knows that the 12th Plan will be necessarily different in the wake of Covid-19.
What is heartwarming is that there is full support from the people.
In the normal times, the story could have been different. The times we are living in is not normal.
Covid-19 has taught us many things. For example, we never knew we could be so kind to each other. Then we knew we need to grow enough to feed ourselves.
Now it is how we can cut wasteful expenditure.
A civil servant goes for a week-long tour outside of the capital and claims Nu 75,000 travel and daily allowances, for example. This is not that particular civil servant’s fault. The rules make him eligible to claims.
But who bears the burden in the end?
It has been found that a temporary cost-cutting exercise could help the government save Nu 3 billion.
For an aid-dependent country, this is a huge amount.
Rationalising in-country and ex-country travels, deferring leave travel concession payments, and transfer of civil servants without benefits among others are some of the changes introduced in the national budget for 2020-21.
This must be the new normal.
But, more importantly, this lesson must extend beyond a few sectors.
Education is one. Agriculture another. Succeeding in putting these two sectors right—just these two sectors—we can solve a lot of problems facing the nation today.
Our young people will have jobs. There will be space for innovation, even for invention, given the right push. Our farmers will grow more than they ever did and shortage or farmhands will not be a problem anymore.
More important, we will have become a self-sufficient nation. This is how temporary budget needs to be understood as our parliamentarians discuss the urgent national issues.
Prudent saving can do us well, why not? And so, this culture must become the new normal.