Let’s talk DNT pledges & accountability

It is exactly three months since the third general elections were held.

The dust of 2018 elections has settled. The sound and fury spurred by fierce political competition have all but died a natural death. It is business as usual.

The new government is on the steering wheel. And so far, it has managed pretty well. The firebrand Prime Minister recently returned from a successful visit to India, strengthening bilateral ties with our closest neighbor and also returning home with the reassurance of India’s continued financial support, a staggering Nu 45 plus billion. And more perhaps.

The 12th Five Year Plan has been endorsed and also deliberated in the current Parliament session. The 2018-19 fiscal budget has been approved too, officially rolling out the 12th Plan.

So far so good!

The recent political conversations however revolve around whether the government will be able to deliver on its pledges or not.  The sound and fury are coming back, if funny, even derogatory Internet memes on DNT pledges are any indication.

The class X cut-off point removal has totally confused the people including the media. The question that is being asked is: does the cut-off point remain or is it done away with? Instead of clearing the fog, the education minister this week created more confusion than clarity during the Question Hour session.

The education ministry’s plan is to create a new TVET stream for Class XI and XII to absorb the class X students into government schools or fund them in private schools. This will again have to be done based on cut-off point criteria, with those students not qualifying for the three streams of science, arts and commerce, having to take up TVET stream.

Plus, such a move not only contradicts the cut-off point pledge but also undermines the government’s plan to promote TVET as a mainstream school curriculum, forget TVET as a thrust area to promote jobs creation in the larger scheme of things in the 12th Plan.

The Annual Education Conference had resolved to keep the cut-off point. Has the government taken any decision to revert the resolution of the Annual Education Conference? The question is, shouldn’t the government make the final political decision?

Questions are also being asked on many other popular DNT pledges. Last week, the foreign affairs minister told this paper that the Sung-Joen App is almost ready to be tested. But the focal agency, the Department of Information Technology and Telecom, had only recently submitted the proposal to the cabinet and had no clue when the works on the App would actually begin. Who is fibbing here?

The government has 60 more days to launch the App since it is part of the 120 days pledges. The proposed budget for Sung-joen App is Nu 400mn. For a project of this magnitude, proper tendering processes have to be followed. It is cumbersome and takes a lot of time.

What is not clear is if the works on the development of the App has really begun as claimed by the foreign affairs minister. And if so, who has developed the App?

The elected government is accountable to the people and accountability starts from day one. There will be public scrutiny. That is just how democracy operates.