Last month, Archibald read “Illegal grants” and commented: “…i’ve been wondering what the CDG is…” A few other people have also asked me about the CDG. So let’s talk about the CDG. Or, better yet, let’s see what the National Council has said about the controversial grant.
But first, let’s recall how the grant was first introduced. It went something like this: On 23 June 2008, during the first session of the Parliament, the National Assembly discussed the budget for the year 2008-2009. The proposed budget made no mention of a CDG.
When the National Council debated the proposed budget (30 June to 2 July 2008), they noted that the media had reported our government’s decision to provide state funding for political parties, and asked if money had been allocated in the proposed budget to fund political parties. The proposed budget had made absolutely no mention of any funding for political parties.
Our government reported that Nu 30 million to fund political parties had been kept aside under the Ministry of Finance’s budget head. The NC debated this and decided that state funding for political parties was unconstitutional.
Similarly the NC asked if money had been kept aside for a CDG though the proposed budget made absolutely no mention of it. Our government reported that Nu 94 million for a CDG had been included in the proposed budget.
The NC had uncovered that money for state funding for political parties and CDG -both new programs that were bound to be controversial – had been included in the proposed budget, but without making any mention of these programs. In effect, they had been hidden. The NC resolved not to endorse these programs.
And that’s how we, including the opposition leader, came to know about the CDG.
Now let’s have a quick look at the Constituency Development Grant Rules 2009, published by the Ministry of Finance. The first line of the Rules reads: The Constituency Development Grant (CDG) is established by the Royal Government as a separate budget head in the annual budget (herein after referred to as the Grant) to be placed at the disposal of the Members of the National Assembly (MNA).
The Rules go on to indicate that Nu 10 million will be placed at the disposal of each MNA; that MNAs (not the Dzongkhag Tshogdu Chairpersons, Dzongdags or Gups) will announce the availability of the fund; that MNAs can suggest projects; that local governments must discuss all projects with MNAs; that MNAs have the final authority to approve projects; that MOF will release funds for projects only after receiving the approval of the MNAs; that MNAs will monitor all projects; and that MNA’s can terminate projects and divert funds to other projects.
And now for the National Council’s views. The Council recently published NC Reflections in which their members express their views. And in it Honourable Tashi Wangmo and Honourable Karma Y. Raydi, both Eminent Persons, talk about the CDG. Since the NC Reflections is not yet available on their website you can read their article here.