Thukten Zangpo 

Both the parties’ candidates at final common forum at Loselling Middle Secondary School in the South Thimphu constituency urged the voters to support their respective candidacies. 

The party winning the most constituencies across 47 on January 9 will form the government.

Bhutan Tendrel Party’s (BTP) candidate, former secretary-general of the National Assembly, Tandin Tshering, said that competition is between the candidates in this general elections and urged voters to support BTP, where experienced, qualified, kind hearted, and corruption-free candidates represents the party. 

He is one of ministerial candidates in the party. 

People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, former Member of Parliament, Tshewang Rinzin, also asked voters to distinguish between the candidates and vote for the best.  

Among the gathered voters, 35-year-old, Yeshi Chophel from Changzamtok said that the party pledges are merely to woo the voters, as 60 percent of party pledges are not fulfilled looking at past precedent. “I will choose to vote for the candidate over the party.”

Another voter, a 63-year-old, Ngawang Lhamo from Changzamtok, said that it is the same whether people choose to vote for a party or the candidate.  Living in a house without a rented apartment, she said that her place has adequate water supply, however, she wants the incoming government to reduce the land tax. 

Expressing the five economic drivers of the economy—agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy, and mines and minerals, BTP’s candidate, Tandin Tshering said that the party believes in prosperity for all and its pledges entail long-term benefits.  

He pledged to provide chain-linked fencing to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and crop insurance to compensate crop damage of farmers. 

Tandin Tshering added that revival of the tourism sector by reducing the sustainable development fee would bring in foreign currency and boost employment in the country.

At the same time, he addressed infrastructure development like sewerage and drainage, water supply, addressing traffic congestion and waste problems, and doing away with parking fees in hospital areas.

Tandin Tshering pledges also included harnessing 578 mega-watt of solar energy to meet the energy deficit during the winter season and revising mines and minerals regulations. 

He also pledged to review the 15 percent vacant land surcharge tax in the total amount of land tax for 10 thromdes, and reduce interest rate on loans in consultation with the Royal Monetary Authority, provide basis income to non-pensioner senior citizens above 65 years and to differently-abled citizens, increase rural life insurance from Nu 30,000 to Nu 150,000 at premium of Nu 87 annually, among others. 

Thanking the voters for the primary election’s result, the PDP candidate, Tshewang Rinzin said that the other parties’ pledges are different from the PDP’s promises. He clarified that party pledges can be fulfilled if one has money, otherwise, not, However, for promises, the party has to seek funding to fulfil them, he said.

Tshewang Rinzin said that the PDP is ready for a Nu 15 billion economic stimulus plan, which would be implemented within one to two months in government, whereby liquidity would be injected into the banking sector at a reduced interest rate, boosting the economy.

Unlike BTP’s Nu 50 billion economic stimulus plan, which will be allocated from the 13th Plan’s budget, Tshewang Rinzin said the PDP’s economic stimulus plan will be outside the budgeted plan. “The budget allocation from the 13th Plan would compromise the other budgets for building schools and maintaining water supply, among other priorities.”

He promised to deliver a construction of dzongkhag hospital in Thimphu, clean and safe drinking water, proper public toilets and sewerage system, and new and expanded road networks in Thromde areas. 

Tshewang Rinzin also expressed interest in increasing the loan-to-value ratio from 70 percent to 95 percent at a reduced interest rate of 4 percent for home loans, rationalise tax on land, property and business incomes, and developing housing colonies for low-income groups.

His pledges also included increasing rural life insurance upto Nu 150,000 annually, conversion of wetland to alternative land usage and farming practices, easy access to finance to cottage and small industries, and reducing sustainable development fee. 

Tshewang Rinzin also expressed plans to set up hotlines to lodge complaints related to any public utilities such as water, waste, crime, among others.

Out of 17, 338 registered voters in Thimphu, South Thimphu has 9, 731 registered voters.