Nu 3 million was used for security arrangements and not to develop the prime minister’s residence said Lyonchoen Dasho Tshering Tobgay after the Opposition Party (OP) accused the Prime Minister for misusing public resources to develop his private residence in Taba in its press release on February 7.
“We welcome the OP’s charges as it is essential to hold all politicians to public scrutiny and to hold them fully accountable,” Lyonchoen said.
“Such checks and balances, even if the motive may not be entirely honorable, will help deter politicians from enriching themselves illegally and prevent corruption from taking root in our country,” he added.
However, during the press conference held here on Monday, Lyonchoen said that since the OP has charged the Prime Minister for misusing public resources and indulging in corrupt practice, the government calls on them to report the matter to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) for immediate investigation. Otherwise, the Prime Minister may charge the OP for defamation.
Lyonchoen said that Nu 3 million was not used to develop the Prime Minister’s residence at Taba as alleged by the OP. Instead, the amount in question is related to expenditure incurred for security arrangements in and around the residence of the Prime Minister.
The OP in its press release of February 7 raised the use of Nu 3 million to develop the Prime Minister’s private residence at Taba. It accused the Prime Minister of misusing public resources for private benefit and alleged that it was a form of corruption.
The press release from OP also stated that they will have to request ACC to investigate the issue as a case of corruption by the highest elected official.
Lyonchoen said that the OP should have alerted ACC for alleged misuse of public resources as soon as it came to their notice. “Doing so now is an attempt to divert the attention of the public from the government’s charge of alleged corruption on a senior member of DPT.”
As per the press release from the Prime Minister Office (PMO), the security arrangement was required as:
Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) on their investigation of the newly built residence of the prime minister observed that the wall being built then privately was inadequate. The RBP reported that without a secured compound wall and a well-protected water supply system, the safety and security of the Prime Minister was compromised.
According to the RBP, the Security Protocol 2014 sanctions the Prime Minister to reside outside the Lhengye Densa and mandates the security division of RBP to provide residential security coverage. The RBP in its assessment of the prime minister’s residential compound asserted that ‘Potential vulnerabilities to crime and terrorism, threats and risks to the life of the prime minister cannot be ruled out, particularly being the head of the government.’
RBP therefore instructed the Cabinet secretariat to arrange a secured compound wall and safe drinking water supply to the prime minister’s residence. The requirement for a strong and secured compound wall was brought to the notice of the prime minister who rejected the proposal. The prime minister insisted that such a wall was not required in a country that enjoyed peace and security.
However, the Prime Minister was compelled to agree because of RBP’s insistence that they would not be able to guarantee the safety and security of the prime minister; and precedence of government providing security arrangement in the private residences of former prime ministers and ministers, according to the press release.
“The MoWHS and the RBP took up the entire work on the compound wall and the water supply. The prime minister was not involved in the design, tendering process and the execution of the works,” the press release stated. The PMOs’ press release also stated that the Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) observation was not on the “the misuse of public resource for private benefit” as alleged by the opposition party. The RAA’s observation was: “the Department in consultation with the Ministry of Finance may comment on the course of action to be taken to dispose the cost of the infrastructure after the tenure of the Prime Minister.”
“Since the RAA’s observation involved the Prime Minister, he immediately reimbursed Nu 2,999,964 although RAA did not require the reimbursement. The Prime Minister took this decision to set good precedence and in the national interest according to the press release stated.