The huge reduction in petrol and diesel price announced by Bhutan Government must be making every driver jubilant. It could also have a rippling relief effect down the line in transportation fares and ultimately to lowering cost of goods at retail level. There is a huge positive boost to overall Bhutanese economy if proper effective monitoring can be implemented.
I have one dark worry about this excise relief provided by India on petrol and diesel imported by Bhutan on the pretext of which Bhutan government has reduced the retail price of petrol and deisel. Surely so many Bhutanese hearts are won by this.
This Indian excise decision comes so close to the heel of the recenlty concluded Bhutanese Royal Family visit to India. I just hate the possibility of India candy treating our King. Druk Yul cannot afford the return expectations ( candy price ) of the Government of India. And I am quite suspicious of the move of our own government in delivering this appearance of Indian gift to the Bhutanese drivers. I call it " appearance of gift " because there is no real value since Bhutan is eligible to the refund of the excise levied. The difference is timing.
The excise amount that India levies on petrol and diesel imported by Bhutan is in any case refundable to Bhutan under existing Agreement. So this excise waiver now at source at the time of import is not too different in monetary value from refunding the same at a later date. Therefore Bhutan as a nation neither looses nor gains by this decision of India.
However, the people of Bhutan are made to feel grateful to India for nothing by this action of Bhutanese Government in passing the excise amount benefit to the consumers now. The Government could have passed the excise benefit to the consumer long time back if it wanted as it was always getting full refund from India.
The Bhutanese government could have kept the excise duty in place and instead waived off the 5% sales tax on petrol and diesel that it had levied since coming to power. That way the reduction in price would be less but uncalled for gratitude to India nil.
I really wish that Bhutan Governnent had not brought the dignity of the 4th King into this politics of the Governments of India and Bhutan. The Kingships of Bhutan are not commodities. It is high time that all involved parties India, Bhutanese Government and our Kings respected the very essence of the Institution of Bhutanese Monarchy that was installed by the people of Bhutan on 17th December, 1907. If the 4th King rejoices at this political play on his birthday then Druk Yul is in a more severe second Doklam stage. Along with future diplomatic relationship with China and necessary conclusion of Northern Border Talks, we would be writting off total sovereignty too.
A better and uniform BirthDay gift if the government wanted to disburse to the people to celebrate the auspicious occasion would have been waiving off the 5% sales tax on mobile voucher. Though under democracy I would never go for associating the Kings with taxation whether waiver or hiking.
And definitely I am against cash gift to the nation by India when our King visits Delhi. A proper goodwill and true friendship gesture would be according sovereign respect and dignity to Bhutan. And that India never intends. So Bhutan needs a combined dedicated national will power of democracy and Monarchy to assert our own sovereign respect and dignity.