The chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), Dasho Karma Tshiteem, said that the commission is looking into the Cabinet’s proposal to delink the Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF) from the civil service.

Giving BHTF full autonomy by December 2017 was one of the performance targets of the trust fund’s annual performance agreement (APA) 2017 – 2018.

According to sources, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed a grant of USD 10 million to the trust fund on a condition that the BHTF be delinked from the civil service. “We have to delink the trust fund from civil service if we were to receive the grant,” an official said.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, during an event to commemorate the Move for Health Walk on October 1, 2016, said the health trust fund will be doubled from Nu 1.5 billion (B) to Nu 3B by the end of 2018.

BHTF’s director, Sonam Phuntsho (PhD), in an earlier interview with Kuensel, had said that the Prime Minister’s pledge will be fulfilled as per the projected growth of BHTF funds post 2018 which includes Nu 650M from the ADB and an endowment of Nu 500M from the government.

The other reasons for delinking, according to sources is to improve the efficiency of the trust fund and avoid conflict of interest.

Sonam Phuntsho presented the performance target as one of the two indicators at risk during the mid-year review of APA of autonomous agencies in February this year.

While the operations manual and bye-laws which form the basis for BHTF management board to establish BHTF as a self-sustaining entity have been drafted, he then said that the proposal for full autonomy of BHTF is with the Cabinet for endorsement.

“The establishment of BHTF as a self-sustaining entity is subject to Cabinet’s approval,” he had then said.

According to sources, the Cabinet has verbally approved the delinking of the trust fund but is yet to finalise the approval and issue an official order.

Dechen Tshomo