Opposition party says government has derailed development process

Politics: The government will have to do a lot of answering in the upcoming parliament session going by the opposition party’s preparation for the fifth session of the second parliament.

The leader of the opposition (OL), (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho, said almost two years have gone by since the government came to power. “But still the government is trying to find its way around,” he said.

He said the government lacks long-term vision and agenda for addressing the problems relating to the economy, employment and education. “The government’s statements on the state of the economy have been changing.”

The motion from the opposition will seek to establish the government’s position on various issues facing the country. “It’s high time that the government stop blaming the previous government,” (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said.

The OL said the opposition believes that the central school system was not feasible due to high operation costs.  Even to feed 300 students in a school, he said, was difficult, and that it would not be feasible to feed over 1,000 students in a school.

The government aims to open 49 central schools across the country in the next four years under the school reform programme.  Each central school will provide free boarding and other facilities essential to provide wholesome education with fund from the government of India.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said that the central school policy has not received the adequate attention it deserves, as its pros and cons have not been debated adequately. “What do you do about the children who don’t get admission in such schools?” he said, adding that all children would not have access to the school.

He also said the opposition feels that the central school system did not facilitate the kind of bond that was required between parents and their children for fostering values that one can’t get from schools. “We’re not in favour of establishing central schools,” he said.

“The central school system has reversed the process of decentralisation and self-reliance,” he said. “Such a system was practised in the 1970s,” he said.

Distributing power tiller to each chiwog is contradicting the self-reliance policy, said the OL.  He said the distribution of power tillers would give a lot of problems for the government with regard to maintenance and utilisation.

The power tiller promise, which caught the fancy of rural voters, was linked to increasing farm produce through farm mechanisation to achieve self-reliance in food production.  The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) pledged a power tiller each for every chiwog, during their election campaign in 2013.

He said that the opposition was instead in favour of letting the farmers buy the power tillers at subsidised rates, so that farmers make best use of them.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho also described the government’s decision to abort the southern highway as unfortunate. “People would still need to travel through the Indian territories and depend on the cooperation and goodwill of the people in the areas.”

The construction of the 68.3km Nganglam-Dewathang highway has been deferred indefinitely and that of the 98km Lhamoizingkha-Sarpang highway dropped.  Both the projects were to be funded by the Asian Development Bank.

He said that the opposition, although not in a position to comment substantially on the issue, as it was related to the country’s security, was not happy with the abortion of the highways.

On employment, former labour minister and opposition MP Dorji Wangdi said the government has made an ambitious pledge of 100 percent employment. “I applaud their pledge and remain hopeful that they will live up to it. However, the employment situation at the moment is grim and they seem to be running out of ideas.”

He added that with a couple of thousands of university graduates very soon to enter the labour market and that if the government does not really put their words into action, the situation could worsen quickly thereby leading to a lot of social, law and order and  other consequences.

Dorji Wangdi said the government must take the issue seriously. “Otherwise, soon they may also run out of time. The Opposition Party and particularly, I as former labour minister remain fully committed to provide any assistance to the government in serving our youth,” he said.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said that the government had failed to fulfil most of its promises, based on which the government was elected.  “The government was elected on the aegis of accelerated economic growth, 100 percent employment and many other such promises,” he said. “The promises by and large remain unfulfilled even after two years in power.” he said.

By MB Subba