Bhutan: Opposition concerned about significant increase in 2021-22 budget


Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi expressed his concerns about the significant increase of the supplementary budget for fiscal year 2021-22 during its deliberation in the National Assembly yesterday. The Parliament last year had passed a total national budget of Nu 80.483 billion (B) for the fiscal year, but the government allocated additional budget of almost Nu 3.867B. The opposition leader said that although some changes in the budget figures were expected after adjustments, the additional allocations made to some agencies were significantly large. “The government should adjust the changes in budget figures within the budget approved by Parliament as much as possible,” he said. The opposition leader said that budgets for some agencies had tripled at the end of the fiscal year. He cited the example of the Cabinet Secretariat budget, which increased from Nu 138.7 million (M) to Nu 453M. This means that the government allocated Nu 324M to the Cabinet Secretariat in addition to the budget that was originally allocated and endorsed by Parliament. Dorji Wangdi said the budget for the environment commission was also increased from Nu 348.9M to Nu 723M. He said proper rules and regulations should be put in place to avoid such issues in the future. However, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that the budgeting system should be flexible and that such changes in budget figures were expected after adjustments towards the end of the fiscal year. “We don’t want our budgeting system to be statistic, which is why we are introducing a rolling budget system in the 13th Plan,” he said. He said that the increase in the budget was due to the incorporation of externally funded projects including Covid-19 related activities. Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the budget had also increased as the government had given its priority to the health sector. Citing an example, he said that 12 new endoscopy machines were procured and distributed to various dzongkhags, including Wangdue and Tsirang. He said that the procurement of the machines helped the government detect breast and stomach cancers at an early stage and prevented cancer cases in a significant number of people. The theme for the budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 was ‘Sustained Economic Stability for a Resilient Economy’. The Supplementary Budget Bill 2021-2022 will be voted today.