Public servants discontent with eDATS

Expenditure rationalization initiatives to continue

No multiple laptops/desktop and prohibition of study tours, participation in seminars, workshops, conferences, and trainings funded by the government part of austerity measure

In a bid to address the challenging macro fiscal situation and meet the constitutional requirement of financing recurrent expenditures from internal resources, the government has decided to continue with the implementation of the Government Expenditure Rationalization Initiatives introduced on September 2022. According to the budget report released on July 7, 2023, all budgetary bodies are urged to exercise prudence and drive cost efficiencies while operating within their allocated block grants for controllable expenses. The measures include reduction of paper use, consolidation of printers, curbing unnecessary foreign travel, prohibition of study tours, and participation in seminars, workshops, conferences, and trainings funded by the government, amongst others.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) issued a notification last year, detailing several measures aimed at optimizing the use of public resources and promoting fiscal responsibility. These cost rationalization measures will be effective immediately and remain in place until revised or rescinded stated the press release. However, the government has again announced that the implementation of the government expenditure rationalization will continue.

One of the primary focus areas is printing, where the government intends to significantly reduce paper usage. Printing of annual, quarterly, and monthly reports, as well as other publications, will be discontinued. Instead, relevant information will be posted on the respective agencies’ websites or distributed electronically.

Additionally, the Ministry encourages offices to transition to online correspondence, where office orders, circulars, notifications, and intra-office memos will be circulated through emails, official web pages, and social media platforms. Confidential information, if required, can be shared through virtual platforms, and office copies will be maintained in PDF format.

To further optimize resources, the Ministry proposes the consolidation of printers within government offices, discouraging the procurement of dedicated printers for each employee.

The government also aims to curb unnecessary foreign travel, restricting it only to unavoidable official engagements. Study tours, participation in seminars, workshops, conferences, and training funded by the government will be prohibited, except for formal meetings of bilateral or multilateral bodies approved by the Lhengye Zhungtshog.

 When international meetings are essential, agencies are encouraged to utilize diplomats stationed abroad to represent them, thereby reducing the size of official delegations.

The cost of refreshments and meals during internal meetings will be rationalized considering budgetary constraints.

For in-country training, conferences, seminars, and workshops, agencies are urged to observe utmost austerity. Approval for such activities must be substantiated and justified by the head of the agencies, with a preference for virtual meetings where feasible. The subscription to virtual apps will also be encouraged at the departmental level.

Moreover, expenses related to awareness, sensitization, and advocacy programs will be rationalized by exploring cost-effective ICT platforms, and agencies are encouraged to consolidate programs of similar nature.

The government has taken note of significant annual expenditures on extension kits, including tents, sleeping bags, boots, and camping equipment. To address this, the procurement of extension kits will be restricted, irrespective of funding sources.

Budgetary agencies will refrain from providing cash-based incentives such as prize money and cash support to winners of various skills and entrepreneurial development programs.

To curtail the rising expenses on vehicle fuel and maintenance, budgetary bodies are urged to exercise utmost economy in the use of dedicated and pool vehicles. Surrendered vehicles will be immediately auctioned, preventing further redeployment or transfer.

Officials will no longer be issued multiple laptops/desktops, and replacement of laptops must be approved by the head of the agency after thorough verification by ICT and procurement/store officers.

These initiatives are expected to reduce recurrent expenses significantly, allowing the government to allocate resources more efficiently to maintain and support critical services and operations. The respective heads of agencies are encouraged to exercise prudent judgment in ensuring cost efficiency while effectively delivering their mandates.

By continuing these expenditure rationalization initiatives, the government remains committed to prudent fiscal management and responsible resource utilization, even amid challenging economic conditions as per the report.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu