Not long before the main elections this year, what some saw as a mere political ploy, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) came up with what it called the 100 Day Pledges – drawing a list of activities the party will do if it formed the government.
Many questioned back then whether this was coming at a time when political parties were riding high on campaign promises; also comparing whether it was something akin to the adage of politicians promising to build a bridge where there is no river.
And now with the elections over, new government and the cabinet in place, questions hover over the doability of those pledges? Was it too ambitious? Will the government be able to fulfill all the pledges in its first 100 days in office?
This was what the local journalists had in mind as well, as they questioned the cabinet ministers at the first Meet-The-Press on Thursday. Almost all queries centered on the pledges the party made, such as the Economic Stimulus Plan, Meet-the-People program, pay and housing allowances of the civil service, free electricity to the rural poor, extended maternity leave for working mothers, homes for the elderly, full youth employment, and the Bhutan lottery business.
And we can take respite in the fact, gauging through the answers, that the government is doing what it can or what it promised to the people during their campaign. It has already done away with the controversial Pedestrian Day rule; and Meet-the-People program has been commenced two weeks back.
The government has also identified several areas that would merit money from the Rupee 5 Billon stimulus fund to ease doing business in the wake of the current problems in the economy. It is also vehemently bent on restarting the Bhutan lottery business to ease rupee earning and subsequently address its dearth.
Additionally, works have begun, according to the government, on the pledge of providing free electricity to rural households, while a group of relevant stakeholders and experts would be put together to advise the government on extending maternity leave for working mothers.
The government adopting austerity measures two weeks back in the wake of the current state of the economy, growing public debt, Indian Rupee dearth, and ever increasing current expenditure, has also earned kudos or a pat on the back from many sections of the society.
The early indications, therefore, are anything but good. The government has embarked on its journey, presently making a good start. But what it needs to be mindful of is that there are more pledges to fulfill than time; at a time when the whole economy is in turmoil and situations least favorable, we can only hope that the journey is as smooth as its beginning.