Of 100-day pledges and promises

Photo: SBS.com.au
Photo: SBS.com.au

The provocative assurances of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to win votes in election aren’t easy for leaders at this stage to translate into reality. The big list of 100-day pledges by the party observably remained unfulfilled. Nothing but assurances will continue.

The cabinet has planed to briefed the media about the achievements on its 100-day pledges on November 8. A week ago, the PM had claimed 10 of the 34 pledges were fulfilled.

Designated seats in city buses for the elderly, pregnant women and disabled people in Thimphu, 30 percent discount in fares for students, setting new national minimum wage, preparation of national employment policy, beginning of the meet-the-people program, cancellation of pedestrians day are some of the publicised fulfilled pledges. The students will get concession in bus travel but not in air as pledged.

Proposals for building homes for the elderly people near monasteries and allowances for senior citizens have been prepared. Right to Information bill has been drafted, tax exemption for small and rural business is proposed and free electricity to rural households have been announced. Replacing the Constituency Development Grant (CDG) with Nu 2m annual grant to blocks is just a publicity stunt as no observable changes would occur with change in the way money is distributed. (The grant is yet to be distributed.) The nation has saved nothing out of Tobgay’s initiatives to reduced government’s wasteful expenses.

It remains to see what benefits have come through doing away with pedestrian day and meet-the-people program. The former government had proposed the minimum wage at Nu 165 but Tobgay settled down with Nu 125 per day.

Though Tobgay announced in this Facebook the government failed to establish Social Media Wing, which is expected to join Bhutanese through social networks like Google Hangouts, Facebook and Twitter.

The government absconded from raising pays and perks for government employees and local government officials saying this would be possible only through establishment of Pay Commission.

Some of the other pledges yet to be fulfilled include revising Tenancy Act, resolving the ‘census issue’, extending maternity leave, doing away with civil service preliminary exams, allowances for citizens older than 70 years, establishment of endowment funds (Art and culture Endowment, Education Endowment, Research Endowment), drafting of new National Film Policy, allowance for rural postings, subsidized loan schemes for students to pursue higher studies, initiating nationwide poverty census, do not increase the electricity tariff, prepare a comprehensive private sector development plan, cap on taxi numbers in the country, lift vehicle import ban, restart Bhutan Lottery, guarantee full employment for youth, 20% quota for women in all elected
Offices and scholarships for government employees based on accomplishment, performance and potentiality and the list goes on.

Pledges such as ‘census issue’, maternity and flexi time leave for mothers, full employment for youths, increase of pay and perks for government employments and local government officials are very complex. Initiating rural posting allowance for civil servants, particularly teachers, also have to come through the pay commission.

However, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, at the third meet the press recently, said doing away with preliminary exams for university graduates before the civil service board exams was the only pledge that remained unfulfilled.

On revising the Tenancy Act and making it more “practical and implementable” the National Assembly, in the first session, has already approved the motion to introduce it in the next sitting of Parliament.

National film policy has been drafted and discussed in the Cabinet but yet to be endorsed.

Among others, the government has already drafted a youth employment policy, while a committee has been put together to draft legislation to ensure 20 percent quota for women in all elected offices.

The pledges are set to be in motion but no time frame has so far been given how long will it take to fulfil.

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