Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DNT pledges fulfilled / unfulfilled.

The media and the Opposition disputes the DNT Party  formed  Cabinet claim on pledges fulfilled in 120 days. And allegations of lying flies back and forth. 

It would be unhealthy to accuse each other of lying. All parties:  the cabinet, the opposition and media are using their own measuring yardstick to arrive at respective conclusions.

In an election campaign, rhetorics do form at times the main entrees to attract the attention of the voters. It would be unrealistic to achieve pledges in substantive form or in entirety within the first 120 days. Thus the need for 5 years term.  So steps taken in the pledged direction need to be recognised and given credence as what can be realistically achieved within 120 days.

I would, however, caution the DNT Cabinet of making the RMA governor the lead "Prime Minister "  in fulfilling the DNT Party campaign pledges. How many Commissions and Committees is the Governor going to chair ? It is not to question the ability of the Governor but an elected PM has got to literally take over the reign of governance. A substitute in any form of disguise is a betrayal of public trust.  Also refrain from nominating same old members in different commissions and committees. Such tendencies do not give room to think out of predetermined  boxes and slows down output due to time constraints. 

I do not mean that the PM must chair Commissions and Committees. Other politicians and civil servants could be tasked.  It is not right to use the Governor of Royal Monetary Authority to direct/ initiate/ formulate or oversee the fulfilling of political pledges of a Political Party. The government should not be running RMA and RMA Governor should not be chairing Governnent pledge Commissions and Committees. The two institutions have different constitutional responsibilities. This over lapping of functions is political heretic in nature.

Further, a PM who is  preoccupied with every Friday Press Shows and dealing with the falloffs on  other week days and every Saturday Hospital Show just cannot be substantially devoting the required time and energy in running the affairs of the State. Thus the need of what appears to be a pseudo leadership from elsewhere such as RMA governor who was not elected to lead the nation but appointed as CEO of RMA.

In regards to pledges, I feel the government is doing alright. Sure most of the pledges are not fulfilled in 120 days. But then how many voters would have seriously believed the election campaign rhetorics of 120 days time period when they were well aware that the Party they vote to power will be there for 5 years. It would be realistic to equate political pledge to a loan that needs to be repaid over a time period. And the 1st instalment to be paid within 120 days.

The Opposition Party naturally has the right to question and dispute every claim of the government especially on pledges. However, here the media, too, has adopted the same political  wolf attitude. Media must present both sides of the coin. Still I thank the media for exercising a mind of its own.

I, personally,  appreciate the Cabinet for funding the higher studies of 4225 students despite my take that the decision does bye pass the constitutionally set limit. The decision served a greater purpose of providing equal opportunity in higher education. And I look forward to the Cabinet implementing the " Mother& Child Care " policy of 6 months state subsidy  from the month of August as so informed by the Health Minister. And I am sure all civil servants are looking forward to a real  decent pay raise at the earliest.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Most worshipped Monarch in political dilemma?

Thailand is a nation with incredible sovereign identitities and characteristics centric to the Thai King. The Royal family enjoys perhaps the most reverred status in the world. 

Thailand has just completed the General Election and there is no clear winner. But the military based Party is expected to ultimately get the reign of governance  according to forecasters.

There appears to be a continuing battle between red shirts and yellow shirts. The red is for civilian rule and yellow is for Army rule. The perception is that  the Army stands behind the King and red stands for former civilian Prime Minister Taksin Shinawatra. 

However, the King could be facing a political dilemma. Leaning too much on the Army Party could also weaken the monarchy base. And backing a true democratic Party may also end up in a tug of political power.

The Kingdom of Thailand is a generous friend of Bhutan. May all go well for the much reverred Thai Royal Family and the friendly  people of Thailand.  


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Paro Tsechu Thongdrel

I heard of it long, long before the opportunity came by to get a live audience of the huge Throngdrel. Today as I witnessed  the Thongdrel being  taken down ( courtesy Parop patrons  of BBS Tv who made it possible ) and as Guru image submerged gradually below the line of  spectators and worshippers, there comes a sense of nostalgic wonderment of life, living and dying. May Great Guru the Second Buddha Bless humanity and protect the world from dangers of envy and destruction.

On a lighter note of life, living and dying, I find that both Guru and Lam Drukpa Kuenlay freely enjoyed life. And whilst Guru did not experience birth or death, the Lam did not favour death. However, neither the Great Guru nor  the Great Lam preached against sex and meat. How would have the race of mankind  survived but for sex and meat?  Sex is the union binding ( gaa-tse ) of lovers and meat which is also nourishing is cheaper than good quality fruits and vegetables which too are declared good for health. But fact is that  meat, fruits, vegetables do not prevent both contagious and non- contagious diseases. And none are essential for enlightment.

The essence of good health depends mainly upon  gifts of the womb and one's discipline in moderation of alcohol, tobacco, free from drugs and observing healthy sex habits.  Neither meat or fruits nor vegetables can harm nor gurantee good health.

I speak from 68 years of life experience. No daily walks, no scheduled sports or gym visits and never regimented diet or daily routine. When you were tasked with raising 8 children and looking after several extended families welfare, regulated routines and diets are far from one's life style. Life was busy and fruitful in the past. And the present is more relaxed and I enjoy it more being free of mundane rules of diet or discipline except what have been now natuarally engrained.

Do what must be done for welfare of families, state where possible what  need to be stated for good of the society and live life as free as possible in the way you were born. Be pious in spirit and responsible in deed. Rest do not bother because there are enough external botherations in life without one self adding upon it.

Good day and happy life. Enjoy your meals and bother not with other's diet. In the end the body will burn on pyre or decay 6ft under earth regardless of who you were or what you ate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Taxation system that has no rationality.

1. One one hand, you take loans to construct a house for your family residence plus few additional flats for rental purpose.  There is no tax waiver during construction and income tax is immediately levied from the first rent collected even though you could end up later surrendering the house to the bank in lieu of unsettled loan amount.

2. On the other hand, you construct a hotel. During construction and furnishing, the government waives off tax on materials. And after construction, government waives off income tax for 5 to 15 years depending on the location.  The income to government is only from sales tax that is paid by the customers who use the hotel rooms and eat and drink in the hotels.

The most expensive investment of a hotel is in furnishing from kitchens to rooms and toilets. And all these are tax free. In fact some smart hotel owners do not incur any cost in hotel furnishing. They import double the amount tax free, sell 50% in the black market at double the purchased cost and thus are able to furnish their hotels free of any monetary cost. Maybe a nominal fine if caught.

Hotels are therefore accorded double tax relief incentives. Matetials/ furnishings are not taxed during constructions and income tax is waived off for several years. All sales tax on rooms, food and drinks are happily paid by the customers. Whereas the rental building owners on the other hand are trebly oppressed. Mercilessly taxed by the government,  heavily cursed by tenants and finally for few unfortunate ones the building is auctioned by the bank. But life goes on. Some sail on, few fly and most trudge along. Survivsl instinct is amazing!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

PDP government taxi policy stands terminated.

The PDP had imposed ban upon taxis from other dzongkhags from operating in Thimphu the most lucrative national market. And further new taxi licence in Thimphu was banned. All this to protect the monopy of existing ThimphuTaxi drivers who had befriended PDP Party during 2013 election. The PDP government even had taxis marked under different dzongkhag logo. I thought it was a very bad and narrow policy and had condemned it.

This time the DNT government abolished this segregation taxi policy and declared " Let market force decide ". I wish to celebrate the day of equal opportunity and equal law for all Bhutanese within the Kingdom.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bhutan government comes to the rescue of Bhutanese youths in Japan.

More than 700 youths had gone to Japan under  " Learn and Earn Programme". Dreams and enthusiasms got dashed when youths realisedthat it was quite impossible to learn and earn at the same time and pay off loans taken to enter the programme.

The youths became victims of the greed of unscrupulous Bhutanese and Japanese Agents. Whilst the Japanese government had nothing to do with the Agency in Japan, the Bhutanese Government had everything to do with the Bhutanese Agency in Bhutan.

The issue of the sad plights of Bhutanese youths in Japan was sidelined by the new Bhutanese government until recently when Japanese media also picked up the same issues that have been the hot topics here in Bhutan among general public for the last several months.

Towards the  end of last week, the Bhutanese Prime Minister announced two major decisions which together at one stroke brings solutions to the grievances of the youths.

1. The repayment of the loans have been deferred until after the " Learning " period is over and the youths step into the  " Earning " stage.

2. The extension of Japanese visas related to such Bhutanese youths in Japan under " Learn and Earn " programme would be looked into jointly by the Japanese and Bhutanese Embassies at New Delhi.

The above two decisions solves almost all problems relating to employment opportunities in Japan and loan repayment terms. I feel the Prime Minister has really put the best foot forward and I appreciate the decisions. Hopefully all youths and parents also are thankful to both Bhutanese and Japanese governments.

What remains is the initial loan principal. The Bhutanese Agency BEO had overcharged the Bhutanese youths and also seems to have made a killing from handsome commissions paid by Japanese Language Schools  through the Partner Agent in Japan. And to cover the commissions, high tuition fees were collected from Bhutanese youths by the Language Schools. It seems that proficiency in Japanese Language is mandatory for employment in Japan. Thus the clouts enjoyed by such Language Schools.   

The Anti Corruption Commission of Bhutan have investigated the whole " Learn and Earn " scheme and have made criminal charges against Bhutanese Agency " BEO "  and few officials of Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. However, the Office of Attorney General is yet to decide on prosecution. Political play is suspected.

A constructive  solution would be for BEO to offer to pay each youth as compensation a sum of Nu: 100,000 + interest till date to address the grievances of the youths in addition to refunds pointed out by ACC. BEO can easily absorb these payments from the commissions received and profit accrued. OAG could then initiate an out of court settlement in consultation with ACC regarding the BEO business licence and service of Labour Ministry officials under administrative actions.  It would be a win- win for all stakeholders.