Looks like the severe austerity measures adopted by the newly elected government in Bhutan has found a high profile victim. The chairperson of Bhutan’s National Council, Dasho Dr Sonam Kinga, has decided to either walk to office or use public transport as the government has not been able to provide him a proper duty vehicle.
Excerpts from his interview to Kuensel newspaper:
After my election as chairperson, I was provided a Crown car as an interim arrangement till the new government decides on vehicles. The government decided not to procure new vehicles but use existing ones. I’ve surrendered the Crown car, since it isn’t pliable on roads outside Thimphu owing to low clearance. Besides, I asked it to be set aside for VIPs and state guests.
PM kindly offered me his vehicle for use during my constituency visit. I declined! The issue was not about NC depending on PM’s generosity. Second, the budget proposed to buy a new vehicle was slashed down.
Third, I was asked to hire a private vehicle. We found out there are protocol and security issues when travelling through Indian territory. Fourth, I was asked to put a BG registration number on a hired BP vehicle by informing the police. I refused! The chairperson of law-making institution was being asked to commit a crime with the police as accomplice.
Fifth, I was given an old Prado that had travelled over 277,000kms. It didn’t have foglight, proper wiper blades, etc. and travels at 20km/h on second gear uphill and on farm roads. Among many problems while returning from Trashigang, two of my staff had to use mobile phone torches by walking ahead to guide the vehicle in thick fog. This Prado was also surrendered.
Sixth, they assured me that a better vehicle would be sent to Trashigang during my visit and the old Prado would be taken over. Even after my return to Thimphu, the assured vehicle wasn’t delivered, because someone more important had to use it, since his vehicle was in auto workshop. Only after its repair would the other be allotted for my use, so we were told.
In order not to subject my institution to further insults, I informed the government that we will not ask for a vehicle again. So my walks and travels are in defense of the integrity of my institution.
Read the full interview here: With or without the vehicle, I’ll continue to walk, take taxis and buses often. It has given me additional space to meet people and interact. Meanwhile, my driver is staying home, bored!
(Photo from Dasho Dr Sonam Kinga’s Facebook page )