State of the government

The prime minister took more than three-and-a-half hours to deliver his State of the Nation address to the Parliament today. He used that time to describe, in great detail, and to great effect, the achievements of his government.

The PM is correct in highlighting the government’s performance in his annual report to Parliament. We expect him to use the occasion to showcase his government’s successes. And showcase he did.

But we expect the PM to report on the status of some of the other institutions that are important to our nation as well. After all, he’s supposed to the reporting on the State of the Nation.

The PM gave a detailed account of the government, but he made little or no mention of His Majesty the King’s achievements, national security, GDP, the judiciary, the monk body and local government. So today’s report was more State of the Government, than State of the Nation.

He also did not present the annual plans and priorities of the government as required by the Constitution, Article 10 Section 10 of which states that:

The Prime Minister shall present an Annual Report on the state of the nation, including legislative plans and the annual plans and priorities of the Government, to the Druk Gyalpo and to a joint sitting of Parliament.

Instead, he spent a considerable amount of time arguing for state funding for political parties, in spite of the fact that the National Council had only recently voted against state funding.

 

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  1. I don’t understand why it is a problem for the State to fund political parties.

    Is it budgetary constraints or some other reasons are there.

    I think state funding would be best otherwise only the ones who are rich enough can participate in elections

    Tx

  2. Our PM and the Govt. does not know in the first place the laws of the country and in the second place they do not respects the law even if they know. I presume that they are doing as they wish because the DPT govt. is composed of old ministers who had ruled the country as they like at the time people could not say “Illegal”.

  3. Thinlay says:

    My own opinion why state should fund political parties to maintain offices in their respective constituency:

    1. Without state funding political parties will resort to other means of fund raising that may not be healthy practice if party or parties are bought by rich and powerful. If this happens, it spells doom for healthy democratic principles and practice to flourish. The ultimate sufferer in such situation will be voiceless, poor and powerless public.

    2. When political parties resort to other means of fund raising, it is difficult to audit their expenses; There is danger that in such situation parties may use money to buy votes.

    3. When state does not fund political parties, state has no legitimacy to question parties as to how they have spent their party fund.

    4. Given a small voting population membership fee and other legitimate contributions, as we are told, are too small to maintain active and dynamic party offices

    However, when i say state should fund political parties, money should not be given without conditions and accountability. It is important to work out:
    1. size of fund required
    2. where it will be used
    3. how it will be used
    4. how it should be accounted
    5. and what are the benefits and achievements from such fund

    The funding must remain dynamic and should be subjected to change (more funding or withdrawal of fund) depending on circumstances and changing scenarios.

  4. The problem with state funding is that it is unconstitutional to begin with, on top of the stop listening to DPT propaganda that rich will control the nation if state funding is absent, we already know the rich will control the nation no matter what. Who says rich won’t contribute even if there is state funding.

    Tashi, I think you should know that the government already gives money to the candidates to campaign, the funding parties are asking is for them to maintain offices in every dzongkhag even after the election so that they can lie and deceive uneducated villagers. Bhutan is a small country, there is no need for them to have party offices in every nook and corner of the country at government’s expense. We already have a lot of local government for that. The election commission already said that parties don’t have to have offices in every dzongkhag.
    The second problem with their proposal is that they want to give money only to the two parties we have right now, this will prevent any new parties from forming in the future , because two parties will have advantage over new parties as new parties won’t be receiving the funds.
    Another problem with the state funding is that even with state funding private donation won’t be stopped, so rich people will contribute no matter what. It would be naive on our part to think that state funding will help root out rich people influence. Rich people have influence no matter what.
    With state funding, there will be misuse of funds, we already have big problems with corruption in Bhutan, do we need to add more to it.
    Also with greedy money pigs(MP), do you think people of Bhutan would contribute to them, if they are nice maybe, but they are not. Every session of the national assembly, they want to discuss their benefits. I thought there won’t be any more discussions about their benefit, boy was I wrong, they now wants pension after serving 5 years. Seriously, after 5 years they think they deserve pensions. I see lot of wrongs with that, first of all half of the MPs are retired civil servants or old people, which means they are already receiving pensions or got a huge sum of money, the second reason if most of MPs and NC candidates are jobless useless graduates who would have failed a lot of job internet views, and they think they deserve pension in their 20s or 30s. Really, what about people who are making 3,000 a month, what about farmer do they complain that they don’t have pensions or people who work for private companies for measly monthly salaries. Maybe pensions should be given if a candidate serves more than two terms, but for one term, I don’t see any country in the world doing that, even the rich countries.
    Our MPs also have huge egos, they think they should all drive prados. In india Mamata Bannerjee drives a Santro and she is more power than any of our useless,MPs who got luckym otherwise they will not even get a job because most of them were jobless graduates before the election.

  5. nothing to be surprised..jigmi thinley has been overrated & is fortunate for where he is..this govt & its mps by extension too.. all know that they are mps ( money pigs?!, good one!) not bcoz of their capability but due to negative voting against the pdp..compare like for like & its chalk & cheese – pdp & dpt..
    coming to the report, we have seen how the present lot cannot even interpret or understand laws which landed them in losing a historical case    on taxes.. they are so used to their old ways that they constantly forget that we now have a constitution for governance, separation of powers for accountability, and elections to reward or punish performance.
    that jythinley talked so much shows just that – a lot of hot air & not much substance..any development we see is a result of the foresight & hard work of our 4th druk gyalpo.. don’t be fooled by all this present govt spins.. in fact jigmi thinley goes overboard that he sometimes forgets to give credit to k4 on the concept of gnh, having hijacked it from the cbs!!
    on state funding – if pol parties are to be given funding of their pol machinery, then farmers, public servants & all Bhutanese should be given funding to run their lives..why should state funds be allotted for operational costs of a pol party?politics is a career they have chosen, why should public money be used to support their career? there are many many other uses to which scarce resources can be allotted..
    if it takes jigme thinley 4 hours to report 1 years activities, will he take over 10 hours to report his 5 year term?? 
    the state of the nation is no better than before, forget all this propaganda..  

  6. revenue consumptions says:

    why ceiling for membership fee and contribution. I do not support for state funding at least. if at all there be, why not government can open one account for any parties. The interested parties members can donate to that account. From that account, all parties gets the same share to run their offices with terms and conditions.
    thereby this would not be a burden to the government exchequer in financing political parties. This can be well audited by the people themselves.

  7. Let’s keep simple things simple and straight forward. State Funding is good. State Funding is necessary. But…

    DO IT AFTER 2013 ELECTIONS.

    Amend the Constitution today. Then it will be fair, democratic and constitutional for all.

  8. YPenjor says:

    1. I join those who say that State funding is necessary, for the Poltiical Parties to be genuine, responsible and accountable.

    2. On the Nation’s State reporting, I feel sorry that PM missed the mention of the deeds of Je Khenpo and the Clergy. On the praise for the Dronyer and his Zimpon team, PM probably has purposely made it your opportunity, dear OL. This has been always your priority, your agenda and your statement. Therefore, the PM did not need to repeat it.

  9. Thinlay says:

    I guess it is fair comment that state funding should start fresh from 2013 to create level playing field for all political parties. If constitution does not allow it, amend it through consultation and debate in the forthcoming winter parliament session so that everybody is happy and satisfied. In any case, proper procedures and processes must be followed for any decision that has national implication such as state funding of political parties.

  10. sonam t says:

    Dear OL,
    The parliament has deliberated in detail ranging from entitlements to tax raise to state funding and bla..bla…
    But neither Gov. nor Opposition party has raised concern about the poor public transportation, increase of house rents at the whims of house owner, rights of the tenants and above all housing shortage in urban areas which are indeed basic necessity.
    Why housing related issues are never been discussed in the parliament??

  11. I still don’t support state funding, it is like asking government free money to run my family because I was careless with my money.

    If state funding is unavoidable, then we should stop private donations to party altogether; no individuals should be allowed to donate to the party be it voluntary contributions or membership fees.

    Then we should cancel CDG and driver allowance to the MPs and divert the driver allowance to funding the parties. Driver allowance without actually hiring a driver is one of the biggest corruption in the country. Not only is it a waste of resources, it also could have employed 72 drivers thus solving a little bit of unemployment problem in the country. In a year just in driver allowance our country wastes 6,000 * 72 * 12 = 51,84,0000. That is almost 52 lakhs wasted, so divert that money to fund their parties.

  12. revenue consumptions says:

    Driver allowances and house allowance for what? I do not support for employing driver and allowance itself is good. If drivers are employed, you will then have to provide ta/da beside misuse of POL which will only add burden to tax payers money.
    I think government should do away with the pool vehicle/mileage instead government should provide certain percentage of salary as allowance. This would be fair enough for all the employees of the government.

  13. DayNagChung says:

    “To test the true measure of a man, give him power”

  14. YPenjor says:

    I agree with Truth to abolish driver and driver allowance to provide State Funding to the political parties. When the MPs are provided allowances to buy cars and when they can drive themselves, there is no need for a driver or a driver allowance. The MP is paid to drive him/herself to and fro on duty.

    When we say, State Funding…one question lately came to my mind….is State itself enough with resources. What will happen to the State when donor supports are gradually withdrawing? Does this mean there will be No Party, No Democracy if there is No Money? OR is it that the people with money will form the party and govern the nation? Corruption! Quite a confusing issue to find an easy solution.

  15. khenrab says:

    May be OL should be given an opportunity to address the parliament with his own version of the state of the nation.
    In that include the achievements of cycling, the achievements of our deputy zimpons headed by the dryoner…

  16. My thoughts on state funding from my blog.
    —————————————
    Deja vu again.

    Remember the Constituency Development Grant which was supposed to be unconstitutional. After a lot of discussions, it was quietly formalised and our MPs have been effectively using it (to build political capital)in their constituencies for a while now.

    This is what could happen to the issue of state funding of political parties now that this has been mooted again. I find the impudence of pushing this lame case very disconcerting.

    I see this in the following way:

    1. The parties participated in the 2008 elections knowing very well that there was no state funding. Asking now is akin to going to a restuarant and eating there well knowing that you don’t have the means to pay for it. You can’t expect to get off lightly without footing the bill. The inability of the parties to manage their finances during the elections was their own failure and no-one else’s. Allowing state funding of parties at this stage would be a great injustice amounting to stealing public money. Then ‘moral bankruptcy’ would aptly describe our MPs and our decision makers.

    2. People have said that without state funding democracy in Bhutan could be over because parties wouldn’t survive. This is a hugely misleading argument. Instead allowing state funding would undermine our democracy more than anything. It would be taking people’s trust and confidence for granted and taking the public for a ride. It is sheer absurdity that parties can do or propose something to further their own objectives (in this case their finances). We cannot go on like this and the earlier we realise this, the better we will be. Let us learn to take responsibilities for our own actions and not try to justify the unjustifiable.

    3. Lastly, the need for state funding should be evaluated by the ECB after an independent study and not by the parties or the NCs. If there is a genuine need, an approach could be agreed whereby funding would be instituted from the next elections in 2013 (but not now and not for the current parties – see above). Everybody should have an equal start and any political party that meets the stringent criteria (to prevent misuse) set by the ECB should be allowed funding by the state.

    Can I trust the wisdom of our MPs to make a sensible decision on this? Let us see… last time they failed us on the CDG.

    ——————————-

    Any questions: leave a comment here or on my blog.

  17. Now, we have 2 political parties in Bhutan. What happened if more new political parties coming up in the future and asking for state funding.

    …….no money. I don’t support state funding to the political parties.

  18. I am personally against State Funding but i also know some of the problems the parties and Bhutan as a nation would face without it. But i would still say NO to State Funding and would suggest we do the following:
    1. Government to built office space for both the Ruling and the Opposition in the Capital;
    2. Government to allot small office space for both in every Dzongkhag, within the Dzongkhag Administration, which is normally inside the dzong; and
    3. Ask the parties to run offices in not every dzongkhag but in regions where the government could provide fund for some staff.
    Thanks

  19. State of the Nation was more State of DPT successes and failed to mention other important things. Felt like I was listening to a political advert for why we should vote for DPT.
    State funding? Well maybe he’s pressing because he’s a tad worried about not being eligible for the next elections? Then again it may be just reverse psycology knowing that the rest of us will complain.
    Whether we elect DPT, PDP or any other new party, please note idealists that power ruin men and it wouldnt make no difference who we voted for-the MPs, etc will still be debating about thier benefits ad naseum, and all the other usual topics of personal benefits.
    Just make sure to vote enough opposition members so that we can have some lively debate next time round.

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