CEC writes to govt to revoke CDG

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Oct 29: The chief election commissioner of Bhutan has written to the prime minister asking the government to revoke CDG Constituency Development Grant (CDG).

Commissioner wrote at a time when National Assembly members has prepared plans and and projects for the CDG.

In the letter he sent earlier this month to Jigmi Y Thinley, the chief election commissioner, Kunzang Wangdi, said that the CDG will compromise the conduct of free and fair elections.

Wangdi has commented that he was hopeful of receiving positive response from the government.

The chief election commissioner also raised the objection in a special presentation made during the international democracy conference in Paro recently.

“The total amount of Nu 2m per constituency per year is a substantial amount and would definitely influence the outcome of future elections,” Wangdi said.

He further said that spending Nu 2m per year by the sitting MP in his or her constituency can be construed as conducting an election campaign.

The CEC also mentioned that members of NA exercising total control over the approval process in the disbursement of state funds for special projects in their constituencies would constitute an office of profit in violation of laws.

The opposition leader Tshering Tobgay, who also got a copy of the letter said, “The ECB in its letter has said that CDG would compromise their constitutional duty to conduct free and fair elections, that it is an office of profit, can be construed as campaigning, undermines local government and is an infringement on executive authority.”

The home minister Minjur Dorji defended the government’s decision to go ahead with CDG. He said, “In CDG, the money goes to the dzongkhags and has to be spent, based on what the local government wants and, in my case, the three gewogs, I represent have already divided the Nu 2 million per year among themselves with plans,” he said,

The funds can only be spent once the intended program has the approval of the gewog tshogde (GT) and the national assembly member concerned.

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