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Updated: 42 min 51 sec ago

Gomdar Gewog wins Druk Wangyel National Archery tournament 

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 12:15

Thinley Namgay    

In a match that stretched to two days, team Gomdar Gewog defeated Karma Chusum in the finals of the Druk Wangyel National Archery Tournament yesterday at the Changlimithang archery range in Thimphu.

Gomdar bagged the title for the first time after competing in the tournament for the fifth year.

Gomdar Gewog defeated Karma Chusum with two straight sets of 25 points each.  In the first set on December 3, Gomdar won 25-23 in a competitive game and ended the day with 4-2 points.  Picking up from four points, Gomdar easily won the next set yesterday with opponents trailing at 16.

Gomdar’s captain Kezang Dorji said: “This hard-earned championship will be remembered for the rest of our life.”

He said of the 13 players, eight are from Gomdar and some were hired from other places depending on their performance.  “One of the toughest opponents we faced in the tournament was Namcha Nyinzer in the quarter-final. Luckily, we won in a deciding game.”

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Namcha Nyinzer is the defending champion of the tournament. Namcha Nyinzer won against Kanglung last year.

Gomdar booked a berth at the final, after a deciding match against team Druk Green Power Corporation in the semifinal. While Karma Chusum won from Choki Wangmo Construction in the Twenty-four teams from across the country participated in the tournament that began on November 7.  This year fewer teams participated. There were 27 teams last year, and 39 in 2020.

Druk Wangyel National Archery Tournament is an annual event to pay tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo besides promoting traditional archery.

“Winning is important for archers but understanding the objective and participating is more important,” Kezang Dorji said.

Organised by the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association,  teams paid a registration fee of Nu 10,000 each. The annual tournament started in 2004.

Meanwhile, both the winner and runners-up received a team trophy and Jampelyang (Manjushri)  statue as an individual prize.

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Fighting corruption

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 12:14

A small country like Bhutan is finding it difficult to address corruption. For international visitors, this is something that they cannot comprehend. Why, they ask.

We do not have adequate answers.

In Bhutan, corruption cases are on the rise and are difficult to treat. This is from Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) annual report 2021-2022.

The report states that fighting corruption has become even more challenging with the increasing complexity of corruption cases due to the advancements in technology.

The key word is technology.

While ACC calls for collective efforts to prevent and combat corruption through a culture of integrity, fostering ethical business in the private sector and engaging civil society organisations (CSOs) and media, the most urgent and important need for effective and strong deterrence, ACC states, is through detection and investigation, probability of conviction, and severity of punishment.

The Commission also says that there is a need for rigorous advocacy, promoting ethical leadership, expanding integrity in schools and training institutes, etc. This method has not and will not work.

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So, what’s the solution?

It is simple. Give ACC the teeth to fight corruption. Give it the independence it direly needs. ACC is not able to fight cases because corruption begins with those powerful and influential. Often it is alleged of catching only small fish. 

And, what about ACC itself? It is sad that an organisation such as ACC has to deal with staff shortages. The Commission is in a severe shortage of human resources. Over the past three and half years, 39 officials left ACC. In just the first half of 2022, 12 officials left the commission. In the past three and a half years, all in all, 39 officials left ACC. The Commission’s attrition rate has increased from 7.48 percent in 2021 to 7.89 percent in June 2022.

The question is: why are professionals leaving one of the most prestigious Commissions in the country?

One of the main causes that have led staff to leave ACC, according to the report, is the work pressure and nature of work with the inherent risks of reprisal and social backlash in a small society. There is a serious need to professionalise the Commission.

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As an independent office, ACC should be given the teeth to fight. If officials are leaving because they feel suffocated and easily cornered, we will never be able to fight corruption cases in the country.

ACC’s independence must mean more than what is reflected in the papers. The danger is when the Commission loses people’s trust.

115th National Day to be celebrated in Thimphu

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 12:13

Nima Wangdi 

People in the past used to be eager for National Day celebrations because of the festivity and many came from far-flung villages to meet their children in schools on this day.

However, today people wait for the day to listen to His Majesty The King’s address to the nation which is a big change over time.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, who addressed the nation on BBS yesterday, said this while talking about this year’s National Day celebrations.

The 115th National Day will be celebrated at Changlimithang National stadium in Thimphu.

He said, since 2006, His Majesty The King has been addressing the nation with clear advice as to how the country should advance. “But we forgot all of them in a few days.”

He said that beginning this year, the country will start implementing the Royal address to the nation seriously. “We will ensure that nothing is left out.”

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Lyonchhen said that most of the youth despite their skill and knowledge are vying to go abroad to work given the chance. “Australia has been a popular destination.”

He said that it was a natural tendency that one would always move to a greener pasture and youth will continue to leave for abroad. 

“His Majesty The King told us that the young people are not at fault for moving abroad for study and work. This is because the country has not been able to create opportunities that match their knowledge and expectations.”

“Given the situation of more youth leaving for abroad to work, His Majesty has been asking us to bring changes relevant to the needs of the time,” Lyonchhen said. 

He said that the country would start to work harder to give the opportunities to value the youth. “We need to bring changes that the country requires.”

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Lyonchhen also said that the theme of this year’s National Day celebration is Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Technology.

Focus point

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:59

Curbing corruption still a daunting task: ACC report

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:58

Rinzin Wangchuk

Curbing corruption still remains a daunting task despite building an informed and awakened citizenry by engaging citizens and raising anti-corruption consciousness of public officials.

This is one of the key issues highlighted in the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) annual report 2021-2022. The report states that fighting corruption has become even more challenging and arduous with the increasing complexity of corruption cases due to the advancements in technology.

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While it calls for collective efforts to prevent and combat corruption through a culture of integrity, fostering ethical business in the private sector and engaging civil society organisations (CSOs) and media, the most urgent and important need for effective and strong deterrence, ACC states, is through detection and investigation, probability of conviction, and severity of punishment. It also states the need for  rigorous advocacy, promoting ethical leadership,   expanding integrity in schools and training institutes etc.

“It requires not only a strong legal basis for the fight against corruption, but that resolute enforcement followed by effective adjudication. This virtuous cycle has to be underpinned by effective and efficient administration and good governance that allows no room or loopholes for corruption to breed and thrive,” the report stated.

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HR challenges

Besides shortage of human resources, difficulties in attracting potential employees and retention of staff are major challenges the anti-graft agency is facing today. Over the past three and half years, 39 officials had left ACC. In just the first half of 2022, 12 officials left the commission. As of June 2022, there were 128 staff, out of which nine are on EOL or long term studies. The attrition rate has increased from 7.48 percent in 2021 to 7.89 percent in June 2022.

One of the main causes for staff leaving ACC, according to the report,  is the work pressure and nature of work with the inherent risk of reprisal and social backlash in a small society, besides better remuneration elsewhere.

With the present HR attrition rate, workload on the existing staff has been escalating, especially on those involved with investigations. For instance, during the Phuentsholing Mini Dry Port (MDP) investigations in 2021, each investigator worked around 13 hours per day, including weekends for several weeks at a stretch. The Commission was able to assign only 17 complaints out of 57 qualified for investigation during the reporting period.

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Despite the challenges, the ACC emphasis on expanding reach to create more deterrence and strengthen accountability, discipline, professionalism and integrity in the country. Three field offices were operationalised in Phuentsholing, Bumthang and Trashigang in April 2022 while the process of formalising Regional Offices  was initiated in December 2021.

The commission continued to conduct various education programs for targeted groups from schools, colleges, tertiary institutes, private/ corporation sectors, civil society organizations, media, spiritual institutions, local governments and ministries through both virtual and in-person sessions.

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They also conducted thematic sessions for the officials of the justice institutions and law enforcement agencies. Similarly, thematic sessions for the HR officers, Local Government (LG) engineers and newly elected LG leaders were also conducted.

The ACC also took up proactive investigation as well besides usual reactive investigation on cases. “As much ground as may have been gained in the last 16 years, there is a long way ahead of us and there is much to be done,” ACC stated.

ACC stated that the momentum in combating corruption must be bolstered for sustained and equitable development as Bhutan cannot afford to be complacent especially during these times of reform and transformation aimed at exponential growth, anchored safely by integrity.

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In 2021-2022, the ACC received 435 complaints with an average of about 36 complaints per month. It was an increase of 11 complaints from 2020.

As in previous years, webmail continued to be the most preferred mode to lodge complaints. ACC received 172 (40 percent) complaints via webmail. Walk-in complaint was the second preferred mode followed by postal. While social media means like WhatsApp and WeChat may be popular among the public, it has not been used widely for reporting corruption. Number of complaints reported via WhatsApp and WeChat dropped from 30 in 2020 to 14 in the reporting period.

For the first time in the history of the ACC, the number of known complaints surpassed the number of anonymous complaints. Of the 435 complaints received, 219 complaints were from known sources and 216 from anonymous sources. The rise in known complainant, according to the report, may be due to the increased awareness, trust and confidence in the ACC.

Forest and Nature Conservation Bill goes to joint committee 

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:57

… The two Houses disagree on more than 30 provisions

Chhimi Dema 

The National Assembly referred more than 30 sections of the Forest and Nature Conservation Bill 2021 to the joint committee as disputed sections yesterday.

The House deliberated on the recommendations on the Bill received from the National Council on November 29.

The Forest and Nature Conservation Bill aims to protect the country’s flora and fauna while promoting ecologically-balanced development and allows the utilisation of forest produce through improved access and equity.

It is also expected to enhance the mitigation and adaptation capacity of forests to climate change and socio-economic activities.

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Reporting on the NC’s recommendations on the Bill on December 1, the environment and climate change committee’s chair, Draagteng-Langthil MP Gyem Dorji, said that NC made 230 recommendations from which the committee could not agree to 39.

He said that the sections the committee agreed on were translations of Dzongkha terms with no changes in the meaning of the clauses.

During the re-deliberation in the NA, the Members of Parliament (MPs) agreed on nine sections from the 39 which the committee could not agree on.

The joint committee will discuss the thirty disputed sections of the Bill and deliberate during the joint session.

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Some of the disputed sections are on the export of timber from dismantled structures; right to implement and execute any developmental activity in the community forests; prohibition of fishing using snare or trap; and declaration of protected areas and other management regimes among others.

Section 229 of the draft Bill states illegal fishing by use of poison, explosive or electrical device is a misdemeanour offence.

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NA recommended changing the offence to “petty misdemeanour” which results in imprisonment for one month or more but less than one year. However, NC recommended fourth-degree felony offence if explosive is used, and a misdemeanour if poison or an electrical device is used.

Dramedtse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that going by NC’s recommendation on giving fourth-degree felony offence for using explosives, the defendant would be charged with two offences: one for using explosives during illegal fishing; and the other for possessing explosives.

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He suggested that the House could take this provision for a joint committee meeting.

The definition of confiscation in the Bill is also a clause to be deliberated in a joint sitting. NC in its recommendation defined confiscation as “forfeiture of seized forest produce or goods” to the government as stated in the draft Bill. The NA recommended confiscation as forfeiture of seized forest produce or machinery and equipment.

The Forest and Nature Conservation Act, enacted in 1995, was not amended for more than two decades and it contradicts the Constitution, Penal Code, and legislations such as the Land, Mines and Minerals, and Water Acts.

For quality discourse

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:51

A long time ago, Tshogdu members, many say, would hide behind the pillars in the Assembly hall to avoid eye contact with the Speaker so that they are not asked to raise a point. Those who dared would utter a few words, mostly thanking the initiatives of the government.

Then came the era of using the august hall as a place to showcase their oratory skills. Chimis or elected members to the unicameral Parliament would impress or put off those coming to witness the sessions. Quite often the message is lost in the flowery language, which the western educated members of the executive branch couldn’t decipher.

Many would not see or hear what transpired in the grand hall of the Assembly. There was no live broadcast or sharing clips of bloopers, the Speaker chiding or of sleeping members.

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A lot has changed. The agenda is available days before the session today. What is discussed and debated is live on the national TV or live-streamed reaching a farmer ploughing his fields in Lauri or a herder in the highlands taking his yaks to graze.

What interests many, unfortunately, is the slip-ups, the skirmishes between members or the bloopers in the Assembly or the Council. A lot of decisions are made that affect each one of us. Revision of property and land taxes, civil service reforms or the many legislations that are debated affect us all. Parliamentarians are the representative of the people who elected them. The legislation they make will determine our lives.

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The live sessions may be easily available or accessible, but many are not interested beyond what goes viral on social media. Most times it is not important decisions or points raised in the legislature, but of mundane things like a member forgetting his lines or the bad Dzongkha.

This week, the Chairperson of the National Council asking the Gasa MP to leave dominated talks both online and offline. Many, including the mainstream media, failed to notice an eminent member questioning the finance minister why a clean wage system was introduced overnight when countries like Singapore took decades to implement it.

Where is the debate outside the Parliament on the revised tax on property, the allowances and duty vehicles, shortage of funds to print textbooks or transfer teachers? Why are we not discussing the imbalance of trade or the exodus of young Bhutanese creating shortages of human resources in critical sectors like education and health? In short, issues of national concern. It is said that a society can be judged by the quality of societal discourse. If it is true, we are not a serious society. We are not making the most of the space to engage in serious discourse.

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Public debate is the first step to understanding public issues and responsibilities. Discourse seems to be regressing as the electoral process gathers pace. As we wait to elect another government, there is no discourse on what the political parties’ ideologies are. We are busy aligning them to regions and power of influence.

Few hits and more misses

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:50

This session of parliament will be recorded as historic as it passed the Gyalsung Act (GA) 2022, the Civil Service Reform Act (CSR) 2022 and the Clean Wage Act (CWA) 2022, among others. These three laws are based on His Majesty’s farsighted vision to restructure the system, rectify the flaws and set the nation’s path in a radical way to bring transparency, inculcate integrity, reform the economy, and fix accountability. The question is whether the legislature will fulfil His Majesty’s vision to bring these radical changes together to make Bhutan a dependable nation.

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Public servants expected the Clean Wage Act to set a wage standard—encourage more middle-level career officers, most of whom are not only in the most productive age economically but are also qualified public servants to work in Bhutan instead of opting to go outside. While the government claimed and the legislature agreed that a clean wage is structuring fundamental change in wages in the country, it fell short of achieving His Majesty’s vision as there were only a few cuts and additions with nothing exciting. The government stated that there are huge flaws and too many allowances for public servants. Parliamentarians enjoy the greatest number of allowances (campaign fund, vehicle purchase allowance, driver allowance, fuel allowance, communications allowance, house rent allowance, tax-free vehicle quota to buy luxurious cars, discretionary allowance and other allowances enjoyed by civil servants) and most of these allowances are still retained in the Act.  The CWA should have scraped all the allowances and made the monthly salary with varying income based on categories of public servants and provide food and accommodation during official tours and make it effective after economic recovery. Such steps would have set more certainty and assurance to public servants. For example, today, except for executives including MPs, public servants get Nu 1500 per day as Daily Allowance. With the market rate of accommodation and food, what would one get with Nu 1,500?

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The legislature made a significant contribution to a radical overhaul of the system by enacting the Civil Service Act. This law will significantly contribute towards public service delivery in a more coordinated and efficient manner. However, there is a possibility of political abuse, since every agency including all autonomous agencies and regulatory authorities are now under ministry headed by a politician. Further, no attractive retirement benefits are mentioned. Today, a government secretary after retirement even does not get subsidised home ownership. Many systems including that of Singapore and India have much better retirement incentives, including homeownership for public servants. The informal data indicates that if one goes to Australia, in one or two years one can easily buy land and even have a decent home by doing a blue-collar job there.  

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Parliament deserves kudos for enacting the GA. However, a minimum of three years imprisonment for violation of this Act is a concern. The reason for inserting a penalty is in anticipation that there will be youth who will violate this law. Parliament should have added just one exception to Penal Code and reduced the penalty.  The basic rule of interpretation of legislation is that specific law (Gyalsung Act) overrides general law (Penal Code) and later law supersedes the earlier law.  The Constitution makes it the prerogative of the legislature to enact any law. The patriotism and protection of our nation must be based on values and volunteerism as envisioned by His Majesty.

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.

No communication allowance for designated CS and PS

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:49

This could save the govt. Nu 37M annually

Thukten Zangpo

The National Assembly (NA) yesterday did away with the communication allowance (CA), including internet data charges for “eligible civil servants (CS) and public servants (PS)”.

Since the Bill is a money bill, NA can either support or reject the NC’s recommendations.

NA’s Economic and Finance Committee’s chairperson and MP for Gangzur-Minjey, Kinga Penjor, said that doing away with CA “would save the government Nu 37 million (M) annually which is adequate to construct a bridge.”

This means the prime minister henceforth will not be entitled to internet data charges on actual expenses. Similarly, ministers, chairperson of the NC, speaker of the NA, and opposition leader too would not be entitled for CA of Nu 5,000 per month and internet data charges on actual expenses.

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Heads of constitutional offices, attorney general, drangpons, deputy speaker of NA, NC deputy chairperson and MPs will also be deprived of CA of Nu 2,000 per month.

Monthly Nu 500 CA for dzongrab, drungpa, drangpon rabjam will be discontinued.

This also applies to the principal secretary, communication specialist, personal secretary, and personal assistant of the prime minister who were entitled to Nu 1,500 per month.

The personal secretary and personal assistant of the cabinet ministers and equivalent positions getting monthly allowance of Nu 1,000 will henceforth not get this allowance.

Thrompon’s monthly allowance of Nu 1,000, Nu 200 for tshogpa and Nu 100 thromde thuemi will also be discontinued.

The cabinet and government secretaries will not be eligible for Nu 2,000 CA. Civil servants in position level of EX-3 and above, will also not get Nu 1,000 monthly allowance.

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Designated Vehicles for MPs

NA supported NC’s recommendation which states: “Each member of Parliament shall be provided a designated duty vehicle, or a one-time lump sum grant for the purchase of the vehicle along with a driver and fuel and maintenance allowances.”

This means MP elected from 2023 elections will get 2,800cc SUV vehicle or Nu 20,000 allowance per month for the driver, fuel, and maintenance with a lumpsum Nu 1M vehicle purchase allowance.

The Houses also decided to maintain the designated duty vehicle as existing level to position level EX-3 and above until reviewed and rationalised by the government.

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Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government is providing designated vehicles to the MPs as entitlement like other civil servants in executive positions, not that because MPs must have it. “Positionally, MPs are equivalent to the government secretaries.”

Lyonchhen said that the finance ministry would review who are eligible for the designated vehicle. “There is still room to review and rationalise.”

Other allowances

The NA supported the NC’s recommendation to provide professional allowance for nurses and clinical Staff (including menpas), a lumpsum amount of 35 percent (0 to 10 years), 45 percent (above 10 to 20 years) and to 55 percent (above 20 years) of the minimum pay scale.

The House supported teaching allowance of 35 percent for teachers in service up to 10 years, 45 percent for above 10 years but less than 20 years, and 55 percent for above 20 year on the minimum pay scale.

Similarly, the House supported professional allowance for aviation staff – 25 percent (6 to 10 years), 35 percent (above 10 to 15 years) and to 45 percent (above 15 years) of the minimum pay scale.

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The NA also retained Nu 2,500 per month overtime session allowance for staff under legislative and procedural division stationed in the secretariats of Parliament, Nu 833 per month for general staff stationed in Parliament, and Nu 1,250 per month for staff under Ministry of Finance engaged in preparation and formulation of the annual budget. The draft bill had proposed to do away with this allowance.

The radiation allowance will be eligible up to Nu 3,000 per month and will be determined by the Ministry of Finance in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

A public servant would get 20 percent daily allowance (DA) when both food and lodge are provided for meetings, seminars, trainings and workshops.

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Similarly, a public servant accompanying the prime minister, chief justice, cabinet ministers and equivalent positions will be eligible for a DA of 20 percent when food and lodge are provided. If only food or lodge is provided, a public servant will get 50 percent DA.

However, a minimum travel distance has to be maintained at 10 kilometres for the purpose of DA or travel allowance eligibility.

The Bill will be submitted to His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent.

Oral transmission of Traktung Dudjom Lingpa’s Sungbum in Rangjung

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:45

Neten Dorji | Rangjung

More than 10,000 devotees from the eastern dzongkhags are receiving empowerment and oral transmission of Traktung Dudjom Lingpa’s Sungbum or Tersar (21 volumes of collected works of the first Dudjom Rinpoche) and other blessings from Garab Rinpoche at the Rangjung Woesel Chhoeling in Trashigang.

The discourse of the Terma (Dudjom Tersar) tradition begins at 8am and concludes at 5pm every day with Wanglung blessing in the afternoon. Garab Rinpoche would be reciting 21 volumes of Thrathung Dudjom Lingpa and empowerment within 25 days.

It is the first time that both the oral transmission and empowerment of Traktung Dudjom Lingpa are being recited in Bhutan. His Holiness received oral transmissions and empowerment of collected works of the first Dudjom Rinpoche, Traktung Dudjom Lingpa, from Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje in Nepal when he was 17.

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On the first day of the oral transmissions, Rinpoche spoke about the importance of lineage holders to empower and give oral transmission. “Wang, Lung, and Thri are important to practice dharma. It is ok if you receive Thri from any learned person, but it is important to receive Wang and Lung from good lineage holders,” said Rinpoche.

“There are many practitioners who practice terser without empowerment. This empowerment is for young and lay monks,” said Rinpoche. “Most importantly, it is for Yangsi of Dungsey Thinley Norbu.”

Empowerment and oral transmission are considered secret and profound teachings in Vajrayana Buddhism.

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Khenpo Ugyen Pelden said that sungbum is one of the important collected texts of Nyingma and Dudjom Terser lineage, adding that the event also organised for the wellbeing of His Majesty The King, the Royal family, and the nation.

Monks and devotees from Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Sikkim in India are also receiving the oral transmission, which will conclude on December 25.


Dudjom Lingpa was born in 1835. Never recognized as a tulku or reincarnated master, Dudjom Lingpa did not receive formal training in a monastic environment. His education came principally through direct teachings from wisdom teachers encountered in his rich and vivid visionary life.

As a terton or treasure-revealer, Dudjom Lingpa discovered a vast storehouse of sacred teachings hidden and sealed centuries ago by Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal.

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The spiritual practices and instructions that Dudjom Lingpa revealed contained in 21 volumes and over 20,000 pages of scripture form the basis of the Dudjom Tersar lineage.

NA accepts NC recommendation on Civil Service Reform Bill 

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:44

Dechen Dolkar 

The National Assembly (NA) accepted the National Council (NC)’s recommendation on repealing a section 31 of the Civil Service Reform Bill of Bhutan 2022.

The National Assembly re-deliberated the recommendations of NC’s Legislative Committee on November 30. The House adopted all five recommendations from the National Council on the Civil Service Reform Bill with all voting in favour of the Bill.

NA Good Governance Committee chairperson Tenzin presented the five recommendations made by the National Council on the Civil Service Reform Bill of Bhutan 2022 along with the Committee’s decision to accept all the recommendations.

Section 31 of the Bill states that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) shall compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules.

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The National Assembly amended that the OAG shall compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules endorsed by Lhengye Zhungtshog, last week. However, the National Council repealed section 31 of the Bill.

The section allows the OAG to initiate legal procedures against petty offenders without dragging them to court.

The petty offenders are those individuals who get a prison term of three years and below.

The House remove the section which gives authority for OAG to compound petty offenders. 

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The Legislative Committee of the National Council and some members mentioned that section 31 is not related to the civil service reform initiative and is completely different.

The members raised that in future it could create many problems including the overhauling of the entire legal system in the country. The members also mentioned that the section will instead provide room for political corruption and will have an adverse impact on fixing accountability.

Tenzin, the MP from Khatoed-Laya, said that they have accepted the recommendations from the National Council after a lengthy discussion with officials of the OAG and judges of the Supreme Court.

He said that during the discussion they mentioned that they have no issues with repealing the section. However, if it happens to encounter petty offenders issues, the parliament can amend sections 71 and 73 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.

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Section 71 of the Penal Code states that except for the recidivist or habitual offenders, the Court may compound any other offence not otherwise prohibited by the Penal Code.

Section 73 states that in making the determination of whether to compound or pay Thrimthue for the offence or not, the Court shall consider: the severity of the charges; defendant’s past criminal record; the potential threat posed to society; and defendant’s age and physical or mental health condition.

He said that since it is an urgent Bill, and not required to go through the joint committee and considering the importance of the Bill, the committee has accepted the NC’s recommendations.

The Bill will be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent.

Phuentsholing Thromde collected 13.6MT waste from Mega Night event

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:43

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The Mega Night in Phuentsholing drew a huge crowd.

A total of 19 Bhutanese bands performed during the event which began on November 25 and ended on November 30.

And by the end of the five nights, Phuentsholing Thromde collected 13.6 metric tonnes (MT) of waste from the Phuentsholing Sports Association (PSA) football ground where the event was held.

Although the thromde cleaned up the ground until 4pm the next day, crowd and littering could not be controlled.

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Thromde’s Working Committee for the programme pointed out that six people were deployed every night of the show which started at 9pm and concluded at 3am. After the show, when these six workers completed their shift, another seven were deployed to clean up the turf and ready the venue for the next night.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that two truckloads of waste was collected on the last day of the event when the musical event was still ongoing. In total, 3.6MT of waste was collected that day.

“About 15 ash boxes and 20 portable bins were placed at different locations. Our security and monitoring teams were there throughout the event to educate people,” he said. “Our teams from the Steering Committee, Working Committee, and security continuously monitored people during the show. Even the emcee announced time and again to not litter or smoke on the turf.”

However, it was still difficult for the teams to monitor everyone because of the huge crowd. On the last day, at least 10,000 people attended the show. At the end of the show, although the turf was cleaned up, it still had cigarette butts and beer can lids; the turf was also found burned in many places.

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A resident, Hari, who attended the programme, said there was no way officials could control people from littering or smoking.

“This event must be the one to look back on and think about the waste discipline we have. We have so much to learn.”

Hari, however, said that the musical event must be held annually. “It is fun and relaxing. Next year, people will hopefully be mindful of the waste. On a positive note, the massive waste is a sign that the event succeeded in bringing the crowd.”

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Another resident said that people were enjoying themselves to the fullest “In the crowd, it was difficult for the security and monitoring teams to control.”

Phuentsholing’s Mega Night is arguably the biggest live music event the country has ever seen. It was aimed at bringing back the liveliness in the city and helping revive the economy of the town. It was also targeted to boost the morale of local residents given the prolonged lockdowns the town experienced in 2020 and 2021.

One of the important objectives was also to attract regional tourists.

Safer homes for the poor

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:42

Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Prem Bdhr Khapangi, 48, is from Balakhop in Semjong, Tsirang. He grew up in a hut with a kitchen and a single room.

Today, he is a proud father of three. The family recently completed their four-room house. He constructed separate washrooms and kitchen.

Like Prem, not many people in many parts of the chiwogs in Tsirang and Dagana had access to proper houses. People built houses with bamboos and used tarpaulin and dried leaves for roofing.

“The huts were unsafe. Rain water dripped in from the roof and there were risks of snake and wild animal attacks,” said Nimki Maya Raya. “It was very difficult for our children.”

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In October, 26 families in Tashiling-Maed chiwog in Semjong completed constructing their houses with fund and construction material support from the Tarayana Foundation. The construction began in 2015.

The Foundation provided to each family a fund support of Nu 10,000, CGI sheets, toilet pots, construction rods and water taps, among others.

According to villagers, out of 60 households, only two were roofed with CGI sheets in the past.

“If not for the support we received from the Foundation, our dream of a safe house would not have come true,” said Prem Bdhr Khapangi, adding that people in the village did not have income sources due to lack of irrigation water and lack of market.

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Besides support from the Foundation, he spent about Nu 300,000 to construct the house.

“I was raised in a hut and I raised my children in a that hut too. Finally, in my old age, I am happy we have a proper house,” said Gauri Man Monger.

Lives were challenging for women and children. “There were fire risks in the thatched huts,” said a mother, Bhagi Maya. “We feel very secure now.”

The Foundation also distributed 300 cardamom and five avocado saplings to each family. Cardmom is a major source of income in the chiwog.

About 40 beneficiaries in Tsirang and Dagana received new houses

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The 28-member Balakhop Vegetable Group received Nu 100,000, vegetable seeds, and irrigation sets with support from Rural Economic Development Fund through UNDP.

More than 20 families in Thasa, Dagana also received new houses with flush toilets in October. In the past, the foundation supported them with farm machinery.

For enhanced livelihood, communities were also given five different type of fruit trees through the sustainable land management initiatives. To address water shortage in the chiwog, the Foundation constructed three water reservoirs with a capacity of 10,000-50,000L.

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The Foundation will complete the construction of a few more houses soon. The United Nations Development Programme’s Small Grants Programme and American Himalaya Foundation supported the projects.

Reviving the private sector 

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:39

… needs diversification, innovation and not more of the same 

Staff Reporter 

The recovery path for the private sector is riddled with challenges but a panel consisting of industry leaders and analysts said that the sector also has opportunities for innovation and change.

The private sector is hit with high borrowing interest rates, policy changes and an acute shortage of skilled workforce impeding their efforts to recover from the pandemic according to representatives from the sector during an online panel discussion last week.

The Managing Director of Wangchuk Group of Companies Ltd, Chencho Tshering said that she fully supports the sustainable tourism policy. “I think it is time now for us to reflect and really understand at what cost we are really maintaining or practising sustainable tourism policy.”

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Chencho Tshering, who has over the past 20 years been a tour operator and a hotelier, said that the hospitality industry was bearing a huge portion of the costs of this policy.

She said that the hotel industry suffers from a very low occupancy average of 40 to 45 percent as opposed to what should be around 60 to 65 percent to maintain a healthy hotel industry.

“With the change in the tourism policy as of September this year and the increase of the SDF from USD 65 to USD 200, it has drastically reduced the number of arrivals.”

She said that figures from the Department of Tourism’s records of arrivals in October 2019 and 2022 show only 12 percent of arrivals in comparison to 2019.

A  Department of Tourism census of 2021 shows that there are 1.2 million rooms available in the market. Going by this trend, the industry would see only about 37,000 arrivals in 2024. “This does not sound good,” ChenchoTshering said.

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If these 37,000 tourists spent an average of seven nights, the hotels would get an average of 23 percent.  “We have to keep in mind that this has been calculated for the peak season arrival of this October, if you average out the low seasons and high seasons, this is going to drop further,” she said.

She said that the only solution is to obviously increase the number of arrivals by restructuring the Sustainable Development Fund (SDF).

Chencho Tshering also said that hoteliers are subject to high finance costs of borrowing while constructing hotels or while operating hotels. Most hotels in Bhutan are heavily debt-financed and we account for more than Nu 13 billion in debt to the banks.

“All these hotels would not be standing if it was not for the generous support received from His Majesty The King by way of relief funds, in the form of interest waivers and salaries for our workforce and we remain ever grateful,” she said.

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The hospitality sector has been given a two-year deferment by the government and the banks collectively. “The big question to ask is, is this deferment enough to save our industry?” she said.  Reducing the lending rates for the industry could be a long-term solution to this problem.

The low average room rates are caused mainly because of the oversupply of rooms in comparison to the demand of tourists arriving here which could be addressed by better managing the supply of rooms in the market based on industry averages.

She also suggested low-interest grants for hotels that did not meet the criteria to cater to tourists and had to exit the industry “to ease the transition of moving out of the hotel business into other businesses”.

The Joint Managing Director of RSA Pvt Limited, Singye Namgyal said that the manufacturing sector despite its importance, the share of the sector has remained stagnant over the past 25 years with a declining export-to-GDP ratio.

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He said that manufacturing is a potential growth sector in Bhutan and can generate employment on a large scale in a relatively short time and lift productivity. The sector plays a key role in sustaining economic growth especially in newly industrialised countries. Indeed, empirical studies reveal almost no countries, except Arabic nations have achieved high-income status without the sector accounting for at least 18 percent to GDP.

He said that the hydropower manufacturing linkage has determined the success and outlook of the sector. “Currently, our competitiveness is based largely on the availability of cheap energy, about two or three cents per kilowatt hour. This is amongst the lowest in the world.”

In the longer term, our competitiveness must increasingly depend on human capital. Considering the capital-intensive nature of manufacturing, it would appear logical to promote large-scale units.

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“If the share of manufacturing to GDP is to increase to 18 percent, productivity will also require a quantum leap and this will require investments in more productive capital, and therefore, a more reliable and dynamic credit regime,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of CSI Markets, Sonam Chophel said that the CSI industry is confronted with many challenges.

“Low scale of economy, challenges in the supply chain, infrastructure, huge competition from imported goods from excessive imports, low adoption of technology which is impeding the expansion of the sector,” he said.

He said that 90 percent of the businesses are still at the level of sole proprietorship and low scale of employment, this has to diversify.

“Most businesses in Bhutan rely on imported materials which creates unfavourable balance of trade in the country and also the rise of unemployment which is forcing young people to look for opportunities abroad,” he said.

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A guest speaker at the forum, Reinhard Wolf said Bhutan may not be able to compete with India and other countries when it comes to mass production.

He has been working in the RNR sector in Bhutan for the past five years. “Therefore, the slogan, ‘low volume, high value’ which was used especially for the tourism sector may also apply to the entire private sector.”

Reinhard Wolf is also the President of German-Bhutan Himalaya Society. He said that Bhutan could use its low-price energy as a competitive advantage when thinking about the revival of the private sector and could establish energy-intensive industries.

Bhutan needs diversification and innovation and not probably more of the same, he said. “This may also be true for agriculture which still employs a considerable part of the workforce.”

Chencho Tshering said that the only solution is to obviously increase the number of arrivals by restructuring the Sustainable Development Fund.

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Reducing the lending rates for the industry could be a long-term solution to this problem.

She said that policy intervention to raise the national minimum wage could resolve the shortage of skills in the country. 

“We’ve to now be innovative in the way we develop our product and price our product as well as how we market ourselves in the world,” she said.

Singye Namgyal said that the manufacturing sector is currently constrained by a lack of robust value chain, lack of access to convertible currency to import raw materials for manufacturing, high logistics costs and a lack of skilled human resources.

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He proposed access to convertible currency to purchase raw materials for our manufacturing units, extending income tax holidays to industries exporting to India, projecting electricity tariff for a longer duration, and allowing and encouraging banks to implement cash flow-based financing for projects.

Sonam Chophel said that there are many new initiatives happening in the CSI sector and the government is also placing a high priority on the sector.

“We need some strategic reforms in regulations which sometimes may challenge the very economic, political and social status quo but doing so is essential to unlocking our full potential of the private sector,” Sonam Chophel said.

This would open new market opportunities and also encourage young people to look for opportunities.

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“Better framework to improve ease of doing business, skilling workers, promoting international trade, and removing non-tariff barriers, among others,” he said.

Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom South Asia organised the forum.

Cabinet tip Brazil to lift World Cup

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:37

Messi and Ronaldo are favourite players

Staff Reporter

If the FIFA World Cup is an election, our ministers who follow football have qualified for the general round. A day before the 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar on November 20, Kuensel asked cabinet ministers to predict who would lift the cup on December 18.

Not all are football fans or follow the World Cup. But the teams they chose or their favourite are in the last 16.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, Lyonpo Dorji Tshering and Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi are fans of Argentina. Like many, they Like Argentina because of the star player, Lionel Messi.

But not all think Argentina, who survived a scare in the group stage by losing their opening match to Saudi Arabia 1-2, would lift the trophy. Lyonpo Dorji Tshering who is a regular in the PMO team (Prime Minister’s Office) feels France is a better team and would win the World Cup for the second time in four years.

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France, along with Brazil were the first teams to book their place in the last 16 and top group D and G with a game to spare. France will take on  Poland on December  4.  Brazil’s opponent is not yet declared as of yesterday.

Lyonchen, team PMO’s striker, is rooting for Argentina, one of the favourites and probably his favourite Messi’s last chance to lift the World Cup. Argentina will face Australia on Sunday and with a win probability of 82 percent, expected to progress to the next round.

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Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi, a good footballer in his young days, according to his friends, and the star player in the PMO team, thinks  his favourite’s arch rival, Brazil will win the World Cup.

Rooting for Brazil is also Lyonpo Loknath Sharma. A fan of Brazilian star Neymar, Lyonpo will be wishing for Neymar Jr to recover soon and help his country to victory.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, the only female cabinet teammate, thinks Portugal will lift the cup. The predication is based not on football knowledge, but because her favourite footballer is Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. Lyonpo’s favourite topped group H and Ronaldo scored once in three games.

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Meanwhile, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering has a rich line-up for the finals, but doesn’t include his favourite, Ronaldo. Lyonpo predicts the final between five times winner Brazil and 2010 winner, Spain with Brazil winning the cup. “They (Brazil) are a very consistent team even without the big names,” said Lyonpo.  “No matter the new faces in the team, they are very impressive and professional.”

Visa applicants complain of delays in health appointment

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 14:36

…MoH awaits response from Australian authorities on application to certify more doctors

Nima Wangdi

People vying to go abroad for studies and work said that the health examination for the overseas visa at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu is delaying their applications. For now, applicants have to wait for more than a month to get the health examination done.

A corporate employee said she has to report to the college on January 3 and her appointment for a health examination is on January 7. People who have not received confirmation of enrolment (COE) letters from colleges are queued up already.

She requested the hospital to make adjustments so that she could make it to the college on time. “I won’t be able to make it if I have to follow the appointment I am given.”

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Those who have not even received COE from colleges abroad have booked appointments and people who have received can’t get an appointment.

An official from a consultancy firm in Thimphu said that the problem could be resolved if the hospital asked for COE while giving appointments.

He said the hospital needs to prioritise the people with COE and appointments for those without may be given later. “Those without COE are demanding the service causing a delay for others.” 

A man, who lives in Gelephu said that he is worried about not being able to make it on time to his college due to a medical examination appointment. He said that he was still requesting the hospital to shift his appointment earlier than he is given.

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“For the smooth functioning of the hospital and convenience of the applicants, the hospital should ask for COE,” he said. First-come-first-serve will not work here and those who have received documents from the colleges should be prioritised.

For now, the JDWNRH is the only hospital recognised to perform health examinations for overseas visa purposes leading to a large backlog.

“This is the maximum capacity the hospital can facilitate. With the current arrangement that is 48 on working days, 64 on Saturdays, and 96 on Sundays, we can provide services to 400 clients in a week,” according to the health ministry.

There are seven clinicians working mostly beyond 7.30pm since February this year to meet the huge surge in applications seeking the service.

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“Public must understand that e-medical services can only be provided by clinicians that are certified by the Australian government,” a health official said.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that the hospital is providing this e-medical service as one of the off-hours services without disrupting the regular patient services. Most clinical assessments are carried out after 3pm during working days, 2pm on Saturdays and whole day on Sundays from 9am.

There are about 2,000 clients registered with appointments and the delay is inevitable according to health ministry officials.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that, for any hospital to start providing medical examinations to process overseas visas for Australia, the hospitals along with its physicians have to be empanelled by the Australian government.

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“Recognising the increasing number of Bhutanese opting for overseas employment and for higher education, and the long queue, the ministry with guidance from the Prime Minister’s office has initiated for empanelment of two regional referral hospitals (RRH) Mongar and Gelephu in addition to JDWNRH,” Lyonpo said.

She said in-person meeting with the Australian High Commission delegation was held on July 25 this year and discussed the process of empanelment of the two RRHs.

The clinical assessment and panel physician forms have been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs Australia, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on expediting the process according to the minister.

Supreme Court asked RICB, its employees, and Ugyen Wangchuk to repay a loan Nu 34M each

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:54

Staff Reporter 

The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the High Court regarding the case involving multiple unethical lending between the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICB) and borrower Ugyen Wangchuk in July this year.

The High Court passed a judgement in October last year. RICB appealed to both High Court and Supreme Court.

The judgment ruled that the parties involved in the lending—RICB, employees involved, and Ugyen Wangchuk—to repay the amount in equal shares from the total non-performing loan amount Nu 102.39M—principal, interest, and penalty amount to RICB.

Each party has to pay around Nu 34M within six months from the date of the judgment.

RICB’s chief executive officer (CEO)  said the company is still investigating the case and denied further information.

Ugyen Wangchuk had taken 12 different loans from RICB since 2010 but has not repaid any of the loans.

Investigation found that the officials of the insurance company had not followed the due diligence of the loan sanctioning procedure. “Despite Ugyen Wangchuk being a loan defaulter, the bank had continued to approve new loans.”

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It was found that the collaterals that he mortgaged with the bank were unethical and some of the collaterals were sold.

He had also asked other people to sign the documents to avail loans.

The judgement states that accountability was fixed on the RICB employees who were involved in sanctioning the loans to Ugyen Wangchuk.

The judgement states that the loan was not sanctioned as per the rules and regulations of the company, and the documents were not submitted as per the required procedure.

The judgement mentioned that officials had also not verified the documents for the collateral mortgaged with the banks. It was found out that a loan was sanctioned based on a fake collateral document for a six-storeyed building at Changzamtok, Thimphu.

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The judgement states that loan documents also did not contain authorised signature of the people involved.

RICB employees had also made dubious transaction from Ugyen Wangchuk’s loan account without informing him; some, according to the judgement, even had deposited money to their personal accounts.

The courts have held RICB accountable for management lapses.

The judgement mentioned that management did not monitor as per the credit manual 2011 while sanctioning the loan. The loans were also not approved by the loan committee or the board.

Despite Ugyen Waangchuk being a repeated defaulter, RICB has sanctioned 12 loans which are against the company’s system and management failed to monitor the additional loan approvals.

It has also mentioned that the management had not taken any action against employees involved in this case. The officials had not cross-checked with the Credit Information Bureau’s (CIB) record while sanctioning the loan.

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Further, the courts found that Ugyen Wangchuk had merged seven bank guarantees with his loan account which is against the bank guarantee system. It was also found that the old loan accounts were liquidated with a new loan amount by the officials.

According to the Moveable and Immovable Property Act, when both parties are at fault, the loss has to be shared equally.

The district court sentenced Ugyen Wangchuk to one year and six months in prison for selling his mortgaged properties. He can, however, pay money in lieu of the prison term.

The High Court, on the other hand, made an exemption because the Supreme Court issued a circular which says criminal case should not be merged with civil case.

NA drops NC’s 10 percent sales tax on mobile phones

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:53

Thukten Zangpo

The National Assembly (NA) on November 30 did not pass the 10 percent sales tax on mobile phones that the National Council (NC) had recommended in the Tax Bill 2022.

The Economic and Finance Committee Chairperson and Gangzur-Minjey MP Kinga Penjor said that the NC recommended imposing a 10 percent sales tax on mobile phones.

He added that there was neither sales tax nor customs duty imposed on the import of mobile phones, and there could be a possible deflection of mobile phones given the large volume of import of mobile phones and the need for an in-depth analysis.

Bhutan imported mobile phones worth Nu 0.5 million in 2019, Nu 1.6 billion (B) in 2020 and Nu 2.4B in 2021.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that mobile phones are taxed 18 percent of goods and service tax in India. The cost is similar in Bhutan.

He added that deflection could be happening but that the government had not come across any such cases and the department of revenue and customs under the finance ministry is monitoring.

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Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji also said that if mobile phones have to be taxed it should be for those worth above Nu 20,000.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji said that the deflections are just claims and communication electronics are zero-taxed in many countries. He asked to carry out a study on the issue.

The NA also supported the NC’s recommendation to do away with the 30 percent sales tax on movie tickets.

The members expressed that it would help the local film industry to promote the country’s tradition, culture and national language.

Re-deliberating on tax for eggs, the NA supported retaining 10 percent sales tax as proposed by the NC. The NA had proposed 50 percent sales tax.

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However, the NA did not agree to the NC’s proposal of 10 percent sales tax on sausages and similar products and kept 20 percent as sales tax.

Similarly, for beef-related products, the NA retained the 20 percent sales tax from 10 percent NC recommended. The NA also retained 20 percent sales tax on pasta and did not agree to the NC’s 10 percent-proposed tax.

The tobacco substitutes such as nicotine patches were taxed 100 percent sales tax. As recommended by the NC, the sales tax was retained at zero percent.

The NA also supported the NC’s recommendation of 15 percent sales tax on cement from the NA’s 30 percent.

The NA, after deliberating the NC’s recommendations, all 43 members voted in favour of the Bill.

The Bill will be submitted to His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent.

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30 piggery farms in Gelephu at risk of African Swine Fever 

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:50

Chhimi Dema 

The outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), a highly contagious viral disease of pigs, killed 12 pigs and affected seven in three piggery farms in Gelephu gewog as of November 30.

About 30 piggeries with 400 pigs near the two infected villages, Pemathang and Raitar, are at risk of getting infected with the disease.

The first case of ASF was suspected on November 25 in Gelephu. It was confirmed by the National Centre for Animal Health (RCDC), Serbithang, using real time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test on November 29.

For immediate containment and response to the outbreak, the National Incident Command Committee started the incident operation centre in Gelephu yesterday.

Incident Commander, Dr Jambay Dorjee, said that the team carried out risk and situational assessment in villages surrounding the affected villages. “The assessments will determine what containment measures should be taken in the villages.”

The national incident command committee is meeting today to map the areas in different zones–infected, surveillance and protection, and decide on additional measures to contain the spread of the disease.

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The team will also carry out rapid tests on the pigs and send samples to RCDC for RT-PCR tests. Jambay Dorjee said, “By this weekend, the team will finish cleaning out all the infected farms.”

ASF is a contagious viral disease affecting pigs of all ages, inducing a haemorrhagic fever.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the outbreak of the disease in 2018 in China was the first occurrence of ASF in Asia. Since then, the disease continued to spread in the region, affecting 16 countries as of 2021.

Jambay Dorji said that the outbreak of ASF has a huge impact on the socio-economic status of the farmers because the only measure to control the disease is to cull the infected pigs.

“We cannot determine the cause of the outbreak in the villages but we have some indication that it could be from the illegal import of pork and its products,” he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests notification issued on November 30 stated the disease is spread through contact between pigs (domestic or wild), contaminated pig products, feeding pigs with kitchen wastes contaminated with pork products, and through the movement of contaminated personnel and farm equipment.

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The ministry urged the pig farmers to heighten biosecurity in their farms, ensure kitchen wastes are properly cooked before feeding to the pigs and prevent domestic pigs from coming into contact with wild pigs.

Youth interested in Bhutanese Textiles: Survey 

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:50

Jigmi Wangdi

Many of the Bhutanese youth said that they are interested in learning about Bhutanese textiles, according to the youth attitudinal survey on weaving, designing and textile culture in Bhutan report launched this week.

The survey conducted by the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) aimed to capture the youth’s perspective on the Bhutanese weaving culture.

More than 71 percent of the respondents in the survey strongly agreed that they are interested in the traditional art of weaving. An overwhelming 86.7 percent of the respondents believed that weaving can be a viable source of income while 55 percent wanted to take up weaving as gainful employment.

According to the survey, youths are generally interested in weaving and textile design. Some 59 percent of the respondents said that they would be interested to learn weaving and designing if it were available in schools and education institutes.

Although the youth take pride in wearing gho and kira woven in Bhutan, the general notion seen was the ‘expensiveness’ of the attires. However, there is a consensus of 96.1 percent of the respondents that traditional weaving should be preserved.

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The survey also found that 83.3 percent of youth agreed on the importance of design training. However, for the effectiveness of various training, access to financial assistance, marketing and promotion and access to raw materials was considered important. 83 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that the development of entrepreneurial skills is highly important for efficiency.

RTA Deputy Director Ugyen Tenzin said that RTA is interested in learning the youth’s attitude towards weaving, designing and the textile culture.

“We are planning to establish a Faculty for Textiles and Design and we have to understand the youth’s perspectives and level of interest so that we can align our programs with their expectations,” he said.

The survey is able to show an overall view of the youth’s perception of Bhutanese textiles. For instance, the survey showed a general consensus that the youth were not too familiar with the diversity of Bhutanese textiles. According to the survey, the youth’s level of exposure to weaving is low when compared to their exposure to other forms of our culture, namely traditional Bhutanese songs and dances.

This is the first time RTA conducted a survey on youth’s attitude towards traditional Bhutanese textiles and weaving.

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