…despite committee’s recommendation to reprioritise
The only significant recommendation of the National Assembly’s economic and finance committee on the annual budget 2020-21 was to reprioritise Nu 248.54 million (M) allocated for waste and stray dog management flagship programme to productive activities.
The 13-member committee, which presented its recommendations in the House on June 6, reasoned that the flagship programme was unproductive at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic had affected the country’s revenue.
However, the House decided to retain the proposed budget for implementation in the new fiscal year in view of the risks that waste and stray dogs pose to public health.
Members of both the government and the opposition outside the committee were quick to reject the committee’s recommendation, saying that the long-standing issue of wastes and stray dogs was a one of the top priorities.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the flagship programme would not only address the waste and stray dog problems but also create jobs. “Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, creation of jobs is one of our top priorities as thousands of Bhutanese have returned home from abroad,” he said.
According to the prime minister, there are about 33,000 stray dogs in the country, most of which are in Thimphu (7,000), Phuentsholing (5,000), Gelephu (4,000) and Samdrupjongkhar (3,000).
Members said that wastes and stray dogs could spread diseases. Others said that stray dogs could attack humans for food.
Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) said that management of medical wastes should be prioritised to prevent the spread of Covid-19. He said that the flagship programme could produce results.
However, committee member Dorji Wangdi said that it would be difficult for the government to meet the recurrent expenditure from domestic revenue and that the money should be allocated for productive purposes.
“The domestic revenue is expected to drop by 14 percent. We need productive allocation of money to revive the economy.”
Nu 5M supplementary budget withdrawn
The House adopted the committee’s recommendation to withdraw the budget of Nu 5M allocated in the Supplementary Budget 2019-2020 earlier this year, for parliamentary committees and secretariat services in view of the Covid-19 having affected the works of the secretariat and MPs.
Chairman of the committee, Kinley Wangchuk, said that with restrictions on travels, the committee stated that the supplementary allocation for parliamentary committees and the secretariat services had become irrelevant.
The National Assembly endorsed the annual Budget 2020-21 of Nu 73,989M and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill 2019-20 amounting of Nu 1,031M including a supplementary amount of Nu 898.277M.