In today’s session, I raised the following issues to the Hon’ble Finance Minister during the Introduction of the Annual Budget at the National Council (2nd Sitting of the 25th Session).
The Government continues to accord high priority for the construction and maintenance of roads. For the fiscal year 2020-21, the budget allocation to the road sector is Nu. 4,225.957 million: about 6 percent of the total budget appropriation.
Under the Economic Contingency Plan (ECP), the Government plans to initiate the improvement of about 1,447 km of farm roads with existing road connectivity (one farm road from each Gewog).
To stimulate economic growth, the Government has announced fiscal and monetary measures and started implementing economic contingency plan in the areas of tourism, agriculture and construction, and this includes improvement of one farm road each in all Gewogs.
In this regard, I urge the government to give importance to build new roads to gewogs that has no road such as Laya and Lunana in Gasa dzongkhag.
This is in line with the government’s expectation to improve access to the market, reduce transportation costs, and to enhance rural income. Moreover, this would improve the living standard of the highlanders and help the government realize the vision of Reducing Gap, besides many significant advantages.
I also recommended the Government to ensure issuing of the road-related clearances at the earliest possible with a new policy similar to that of the Government’s Procurement Rules and Regulations during emergencies.
The Department of Forests and Park Services, Wangchuk Centennial National Park, Bumthang accorded the Forest Clearance for construction of farm road measuring 15.5km from Bisha Goenpa to Gyentsa on March 2, 2020, and Jigme Dorji National Park, Gasa accorded the Forest Clearance for construction of farm road measuring 8km from Ramina to Jaziphu under Lunana Gewog on March 13, 2020. However, the Gewog is yet to receive the Environment Clearances for these road constructions.
The road to Laya was one of the significant pledges of the current Government and should consider it as the top priority. Although the preliminary survey was carried out recently, more needs to be done to complete the remaining 30% of the road to Laya from TongshuDra (Approximately 13 km). It has been more than 2 years now; the gewog is yet to receive the road clearances.
Moreover, as always I reminded the Government of the need to improve road conditions between Punakha and Gasa border, especially from Kabesa Sirigang to Shatem Draphu.
The road, despite being crucial for ensuring administrative ease, economic development through tourism, and livelihood enhancement through connectivity; the quality of the road, as mentioned earlier, remained a major stumbling block for more than two decades. Thus disappointing the people.
However, it was encouraging to hear from the Hon’ble Finance Minister that the works to get clearances at the shortest time possible is taking good progress. The government including Gasa-Laya gewog centre road to be blacktopped along with 23 other GC roads was welcome news.
While sharing the concerns and views of the people, I revere and share the same thoughts of the need to secure our economy in times like today. There is a need to create employment and realize the consumption capacity of the people as mentioned by the minister.
The budget for FY 2020-21 is presented in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic which has caused a global health crisis and economic downturn.
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