On the scale of priority, the bye-election constituencies have been given more importance over other constituencies, according to the Opposition Party
The government needs to reassess the reprioritized and de-prioritized plan activities to ensure that the implementation of the current plan meets its ultimate objective of equitable and balanced development, according to the Opposition Party, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT).
The Opposition Party stated that they have learned that some critical national programs have been dropped, and the government has diverted a disproportionate amount of budget to the constituencies of the Prime Minister and the Bye-Elections during the recent reprioritization of the 12th Plan activities.
“We take cognizance of the fact that the government had to reprioritize some planned and budgeted activities given the difficult situation the Covid-19 pandemic brought about,” the Opposition stated, adding that they also recognize the executive power vested in the government to reprioritize the plan activities to keep the plan dynamic and responsive to the needs of the situation.
According to the Opposition Party, in the Annual Audit Report of 2020-2021, it has been reported that a substantial amount of the General Reserve Funds have been transferred to normal local development activities, particularly the Finance Minister’s constituency.
“The 12th Plan reprioritization and General Reserve (GR) utilization is a case of policy and political corruption, which violates the Constitution, Public Finance Act and Resource Allocation Formula (RAF).”
The Opposition issued a press release stating that the government breached the Constitution, Public Finance Act, and Resource Allocation Formula (RAF), which among others require ensuring equitable and balanced development through fair distribution of the limited public resources.
“It is found to be a matter of serious concern. Moreover, the reprioritized activities and budgets have not been reported to the Parliament. Such exercise of powers by the government sets a wrong and a deeply worrying precedent,” the Opposition stated.
Further, the power to reprioritize or make technical adjustments is not a license to discriminate against other constituencies and favor some, the Opposition stated.
“Though the government has the leverage to align its priorities with the overall plan endorsed by the Parliament, it is wrong to exercise that leverage at the expense of the long-established national practice of ensuring fairness in planning processes and outcomes.”
Further, the Opposition stated that it is the constitutional duty of the government to ensure fairness and objectivity in undertaking development activities.
“In some important areas of reprioritization of plan activities and adding new ones as the government priorities, there is a crystal-clear unashamed pandering to the temptation of meeting the bye-election promises and discrimination among the constituencies.”
The Opposition shared that on the scale of priority, the bye-election constituencies have been given more importance over other constituencies. Even the constituencies represented by the ruling party Members of Parliament (MPs) have been given step-motherly treatment compared to bye-election ones.
“It is difficult to not be understood as policy corruption,” the Opposition stated and questioned the government what kind of precedence is the government creating in the governance architecture of the country.
However, the party stated that it is compelled to question the government to explain the source of legitimacy to discriminate among constituencies and regions.
“It is not about questioning and undermining the authority of the government, but more about the ‘element of abuse and adulteration of the authority and duty’ the people placed in the government of the day – through the expression of their constitutional mandate and right to elect a responsible, transparent, fair, and accountable government.”
According to the Opposition, the records show that no previous governments distorted the fundamental principles of equity in development in the name of reprioritization and new priorities in the measure the present government is up to.
“This will set a precedent that will not only polarize politics of which we will surely not be proud of in the future, but also defeat the decades-old national planning goal to pursue an equitable and regionally balanced development approach,” the Opposition stated.
Moreover, the Opposition Party stated that the immediate results of distortion include compromising the national priority projects to accommodate bye-election pledges and discriminatory objectives.
“The reassessment is crucial to ensure a political party’s objectives are prevented from masquerading the overall sound planning and development goals.”
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu