NA’s Economic and Finance Committee proposes additional funds for food and drug authority in budget review

The National Assembly’s Economic and Finance Committee presented its review report on the Financial Year 2024-2025 budget today. The committee submitted a 16-point recommendation on the budget appropriation Bill for deliberation. The budget for the next financial year, which begins in July, is almost Nu 98bn; the highest for any financial year, so far.

One of the recommendations made by the committee was to allocate an additional Nu 140 M to the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority to upgrade laboratory facilities and certification capacity. At the moment, only about Nu 73 M has been allocated to the authority.

“The government will support the committee’s recommendation. Certification of food and food products is necessary for export. Export is important to boost our economy. So, supporting BFDA is crucial to address the technical barrier to the export of food and agricultural goods,” said Lekey Dorji, Minister of Finance.

However, the minister also added that the Food and Drug Authority did not fully utilise their previous budgets.

“In the year 2021-2022, the BFDA was allocated a budget of around Nu 53 M. However, 17 per cent of the budget went unused and was returned. Similarly, in the year 2022-2023, BFDA was allocated Nu 32 M, with 36 per cent of the budget going unused. In the year 2023-2024, over Nu 57 M was allocated to BFDA with 23 per cent going unused and returned.”

The budget for the Food and Drug Authority will be finalised in tomorrow’s session.

Additionally, the committee recommended identifying districts with risks of human-wildlife conflict to install chain-link fencing.

In response, the agriculture and livestock minister said that there are several criteria for the eligibility of chain-link fencing such as the land size, crop type, number of beneficiaries, and human-wildlife conflict, among others.

Another recommendation from the committee was to make the energy department responsible for implementing and maintaining solar panels in schools, instead of the Education and Skills Development Ministry.

The education minister agreed to this recommendation.

The House will adopt the Budget Appropriation Bill for the Financial Year 2024-2025 tomorrow.

Of the total estimated budget for the next financial year, over Nu 50bn has been kept as recurrent expenses while almost Nu 40bn will be used for capital expenditure.

Deki Lhazom/Phub Dorji

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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