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Question Hour

Posted on :11 January 2019

A total of Eight Questions were asked in the Question Hour Session Today to Ministers in Group C.  Four Questions were asked to the Minister for Economic Affairs, Three to the MInister for Labour and Human Resources and one to the Finance Minister.

 

The Member from Tashi Choling Constituency asked on the implementation of the government’s policy to buy-back cardamom from the farmers at the rate of Nu. 550/- per Kg. The Member from Kengkhar-Weringla asked the Minister when the Kuri-Gongri Hydropower plant will be started. The Member from Bardo-Trong question was on the plans and progress made in developing Tourism in the Eastern region and the benefits accrued by the exemption of tax on tourism in the Eastern Region. Deothang-Gomdar constituency Member sought clarification on the status of Motanga industrial area and information that was received regarding lack of additional slot for industries.

 

The Minister for Economic Affairs, in response to the buy back policy of the government, said that the government is working on implementing the policy and preparatory works such as construction of cold storage took time.   However, the Minister said that after recent discussion with the GOI, cardamom marketing across border has resumed. The Agriculture Minister supplemented by clarifying that the Food Corporation of Bhutan had already bought about 12-17 MT of cardamom from the people. The Government was also prepared to buy back remaining 82 MT of cardamom from 2025 people, however, the farmers preferred to sell the product on their own since the market is now open. On the start of Kuri-Gongri Hydropower plant, the Minister informed that the start of project will depend on the DPR report which is expected to be completed by 2019.  On tourism front, the government continues to make effort to promote tourism in the east by initiation various programs, establishment of Regional Tourism Offices and is one of the Flagship program in the 12 FYP. Lyonchhen supplemented that a proper tourism policy will be put in place. With regard to availability of new ventures in Motanga, the Minister clarified that Motanga industrial area has about 156 acres, and a cluster approach of development based on product was taken. Motanga industrial area was identified as mineral and chemical based, forest and wood based industries. So far 29 Mineral based slots have already been awarded and additional 14 proposals have been received by the MInistry. A limit on allocation of industries was set in order to mitigate business risks/diversification; however, the Ministry will look into the matter. He also said that although the allocation has been completed if a proposal was withdrawn or failed to start on time, the opportunity would be passed on to other interested investors.

 

The Member from Nanglam constituency and Bartsham-Shongpu constituency asked the Minister for Labour and Employment regarding government plans on resolving youth unemployment and programs to enhance rural employment opportunities  in the 12 FYP respectively. Member from Jomotshangkha Marthsla asked the possibility of government waiving of loan for students in Japan.

 

In response, the Labour and Human Resources Minister informed that youth unemployment is challenge and is a priority for the government, various plans and programs have been initiated. Minister also informed that a multi-sector committee will be constituted who will function as a focal for creating employment opportunities. To enhance rural employment, the government is looking at farm mechanization, cooperative farming, post harvest management, value addition to the agricultural products and exporting of products which will create employment opportunities especially to the educated youth. As for waiving off the loan for the students in Japan, the Minister reiterated that the government has decided to defer the loan repayment of the students, as a more sustainable strategy, till they complete their studies. The MInister also informed that a team led by the minister himself will be leaving for Japan as soon as possible to look into the matter.

 

The Member from Nanong-Shumar constituency asked the Finance Minister if the government would continue with the Rural Enterprise Development  Corporation Limited (REDCL) which was known as Business Opportunity and Information center (BOIC) established by the previous government under the Economic Stimulus Plan.

 

In response, the Finance Minister said that the BOIC was established in 2014 by the previous government to boost the poor GDP growth. The current government will study the management issues that the REDCL has been facing and review the programs and continue the program taking into consideration the 63 employees who are currently employed and also the fact that the issue of nonperforming loans is being addressed.

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