Relief Fund

“Disaster relief” generated a fair deal of debate. And most of it was good.

Some of our readers (Sonam, Shogan and others) felt that the donations were made specifically for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damages caused by the May 26 floods. And that, as such, the donations should not be used for relief purposes.

One reader (Guest) pointed out that the restoration of damages caused by calamities is the government’s responsibility. And that kidu, which is His Majesty’s prerogative, should not be confused with restoration.

But other readers (especially Linda Wangmo) felt that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damages caused the floods should be financed from the government’s budget. And that the donations should all go to the Relief Fund.

And one reader (DRoLo) wondered if I was “trying to play up PM (and thus his democratically elected government) against the King.” That obviously is not true. And I regret that some of our readers may feel that way.

“Disaster relief” was not about His Majesty the King. Or about the Prime Minister. It was about the Constitution. And it was specifically about Article 14 Section 12 of the Constitution which requires that “Parliament shall establish a relief fund and the Druk Gyalpo shall have the prerogative to use this fund for urgent and unforeseen humanitarian relief.”

We have not yet established a relief fund. During the first three sessions of the Parliament, we did not discuss any legislation to establish the fund. We did not discuss the objectives of a relief fund or its scope. And we did not discuss how the fund would be financed. Instead, we have earmarked Nu 20 million as a budget item called “HM’s Relief Fund” without establishing the scope of the fund – without defining what “urgent and unforeseen humanitarian relief” means.

According to Change.org, a social entrepreneurship nonprofit, specific humanitarian relief activities include “food distributions, emergency shelter and other essential non-food items, camp coordination, provision of basic services such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene and education agricultural support and protection activities.” These activities are expected to provide a seamless transition “to early recovery which would lead to longer-term development.”

Obviously not all these activities, and the other definitions they provide, will be relevant to us. But we need to define by law – that is by the parliament establishing the Fund – what “humanitarian relief” means and covers in our context. Otherwise we’ll risk creating even more confusion.

The Relief Fund, once it’s established, would also define procedures for receiving donations and contributions – from governments, agencies and individuals – for disaster relief. All such contributions should, I believe, first be deposited in the Relief Fund. From there, the money would, if needed, be routed to relevant agencies (ministries, local governments, NGOs) that would carry out the relief work.

 

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  1. I agree 100% with Hon’ OL on this clarification. No body can play up PM against HM. No body should and nobody should interprest anything in this manner. It is the sacred duty of the Bhutanese people to not even consider or think of such an interpretation. It is very lowly of anyone as citizens of Bhutan to think of this scenario. His Majesty for us Bhutanese is beyond earth and sky if you will as HM is the ultimate hope for us Bhutanese through good times and through bad times.

    WHAT BHUTAN IS TODAY AND THE PEACE & PROSPERITY WE ENJOY TODAY IS BECAUSE OF THE SELFLESS UNTIRING EFFORTS OF OUR MANARCHS AND NO ONE SHOULD FORGET THIS……..

  2. Dear OL,

    Argued from this perspective, I fully support you. The Relief Fund of His Majesty should be established forthwith. The Parliament has a clear directive from the Constitution. Like I said in my earlier post on the subject, the seed amount (currently at Nu.20mil) is not an issue. If His Majesty needs more – it is His for the asking.

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  1. […] knows when the next big natural calamity will strike. Yet we, MPs, have not yet established the Relief Fund, which according to Article 14 Section 12 of the […]

  2. […] there’s a real need to establish the Relief Fund […]

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