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དུས་མཐུན་བཟོ་ཡོད: 2 hours 42 min གི་ཧེ་མ།

The fear of turning 20

2 hours 50 minགི་ཧེ་མ།

… mid-career employees resign to avoid entering into the pension system

Rinzin Wangchuk 

A forty-three-year-old woman tendered her resignation this month after serving more than 19 years in one of the corporations in Thimphu. Another two corporate employees, both men in their early 40s, are waiting to complete their 19th year in services.

Unlike other civil servants, they are not resigning to go to Australia or Canada to study or work.

For instance, the 43-year-old woman has decided not to join the pension scheme because she cannot wait till her minimum service retirement age of 56.

“Given the stressful work environment, heavy workload, and job insecurity, I don’t think I can work more than five years even if I join the pension scheme,” she said. “It is better to take my retirement benefits in lumpsum payment of accumulated contributions than to regret later.”

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According to officials from National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF), a total of 238 members who were in the service between 15 years and 20 years resigned last year to take lump sum payments. This is the highest number since 2017.

“However, employees resigning below 20 years were negligible compared to overall members exiting from the system,” the Pension and Provident Fund (PF) Chief, Tshering Dorji said.

Of the 3,637 members who resigned in the past year, only seven percent retired before 20 years in service. The record number of people who were in the service for less than five years was 62 percent or 2,239 including 1,321 local government leaders.

The total number of members who resigned in the last five years also indicated that the employees below 20 years in service were between seven and 10 percent only.

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The NPPF saw 9,031 members leave the pension system in the last five years from 2017 to 2022, of which 865 or 9.6 percent members were between 15 years and 20 years in service. About 47 percent or 4,261members were below five years followed by 2,058 or 23 percent were 20 years and above. There were 1,981 members between five to 10 years and 1,187 members who served more than 10 years and less than 15 years.

According to the new chief executive officer (CEO) of NPPF, Dorji Penjor, the number of NPPF members who resigned from their services had increased from 29 percent in pre-pandemic to 49.5 percent in post-pandemic.

Some observers also pointed out that the number of employees who resigned from civil service and corporate agencies during the post-pandemic attributed to the Australia factor for which they needed lump sum amount to pay tuition fees.

“I am sure more than 85 percent of the employees must have gone abroad looking for a greener pasture,” a corporate employee said.

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Of the 4,026 employees who resigned in 2021 and 2022, only 920 people served more than 20 years.

Sharing his personal experience and opinion, CEO Dorji Penjor said that there could be two categories for people opting for the pension system and others to take a lump sum amount. Some employees from civil service or corporate entities prefer to resign early to start businesses with the lump sum amount they are entitled to.

“Some prefer to join the pension scheme because their future is secured once they have resigned or superannuated,” he said.

Pension and Provident Fund (PF)

The pension schemes were introduced in 2002 as a mandatory retirement saving scheme for civil servants, employees of public corporations and enterprises and members of the Armed Forces to provide income security after retirement.

Both employees and employers make contributions to the pension and provident fund schemes. In the case of civil servants, an employee contributes 11 percent with the employer contributing 15 percent coming to a total of 26 percent. The custodian of the pension and PF takes 16 percent into the pension and 10 percent goes to the PF.

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Both employers and employees of corporate and some SOEs contribute 15 percent each from which 14 percent goes to the PF. The pensionable age for an early pension is 51 years and 56 years for a normal pension.

Pension benefits are paid monthly to members whereas provident fund benefits are paid in lumpsum, with accrued interest, on retirement.

There are two tiers of the National Pension and Provident Fund Plan (NPPFP).

The Pension Plan, Tier 1, is a partially funded, pay-as-you-go plan, under which monthly pension benefits are provided upon the retirement of a member of Tier 1 or upon his/her permanent disability prior to his/her retirement. Upon the death of a member prior to or after retirement, monthly benefits are given to the surviving spouse and surviving children.

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The PFP, or Tier 2, is a defined contribution, fully funded plan under which a lump sum benefit equivalent to all the contributions to a member’s Tier 2 account, together with returns thereon, is  paid on the date of his/her retirement or death while in service.

If a member has made more than 120 but less than 240 monthly contributions and in the event member leaves service by retirement, retrenchment and or under any condition except in case of the member’s death, such a member can exercise the option to receive an early pension or wait till minimum civil service retirement age for normal pension or withdraw lump-sum payment of accumulated contribution from Tier 1 account with interest.

The maximum retirement pension is 40 percent of the maximum ceiling of the salary scale of EX1 position level of the civil service. One pensioner receives a monthly pension benefit of Nu 37,042 which is the maximum and the minimum amount received by pensioners is Nu 5,510.

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Currently, NPPF has 68,940 active members from civil service, corporations, state-owned enterprises, Armed Forces, and private entities. “Of this, we have 53,641 simultaneous memberships of tier 1 and tier 2 and another 15,299 tier 2 members today,” NFPF’s actuarial analyst Lekzin Dema said adding that there are 2,739 members (beneficiaries of PF) from the private sector.

The NPPF receives more than Nu 300M a month in pension and PF from its members while a monthly payment of Nu 80.428M is made to 9,320 pensioners today. Pensioners include their surviving spouses and children, orphans, permanent disability, and dependent parent benefits.

“With the economic slowdown, finding investment opportunities and building a diversified investment portfolio in the market is a major challenge the NPPF is facing today,” CEO Dorji Penjor said.

As of December 2022, NPPF has around Nu 52B in funds. The total loan portfolio including corporate and member loans stood around Nu 20B.

Picture story

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:12

On behalf of His Majesty The King, Gyalpoi Zimpon Ugyen K Namgyel, presents a khadar to Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela, on the occasion of India’s 74th Republic Day, yesterday. The Indian community in Bhutan attended the event at the Indian embassy in Thimphu. The Royal Government was represented by the Cabinet Secretary Kesang Deki, who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Pem Choden and other officials. (Photo: Indian Embassy in Thimphu FB)

KGUMSB proposes Nu 533.68M to begin MBBS course

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:11

Lhakpa Quendren

Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) has proposed to the government Nu 533.681 million to start the undergraduate medical course (MBBS) by July this year.

The Prime Minister, for immediate implementation of the MBBS programme, directed the finance ministry to review the proposal and support it with the required fund.

The start of the MBBS programme was approved during the 133rd session of the Lhengye Zhungtshog held on December 14 last year.

Following the instruction from the government, KGUMSB also formed six different management teams along with the members to meet the deadline for starting the MBBS course and facilitate a smooth implementation of the preparatory works.

To coordinate and monitor the progress of work, a doctor has been appointed to lead the MBBS project secretariat and dedicate his full time to MBBS-related works, according to the project secretariat.

KGUMSB’s President, Dr Kinzang P Tshering in an earlier interview said, the project secretariat drafted the curriculum and efforts are underway to introduce the programme by this year.

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While Thimphu is identified as a more cost-effective and feasible location for the immediate implementation of the course, KGUMSB is exploring options for a permanent structure outside Thimphu and Paro.

KGUMSB would take over the facility that the government bought at Taba last year to start the MBBS course, Kuensel learnt.

The president said that the course will be started as an interim programme at the KGUMSB and the works will continue for a permanent structure.

KGUMSB will host this six-year course, including a year-long internship, with 25 seats for local students in the initial three years following which it will be extended to 25 international students.

Doing this is expected to help the university prepare for the international campus and handle international students in a more graded manner.

The president said that experienced international faculty from partner institutes will be hired to teach MBBS students and cadavers can be procured for the hands-on clinical science training.

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The course, once completed, is expected to boost the doctors’ number and address the shortage of health workers including specialists in certain specialities.

Considering all the required departments including bed-capacity and availability of specialists and residents for tutoring and teaching support, the national referral hospital (JDWNRH) will be used as a dedicated teaching hospital.

Introducing the in-country MBBS degree programme is one of the principal activities outlined in the 12th Plan for the KGUMSB, which was approved with an estimated budget outlay of Nu 100 million through multi-stakeholder consultations.

In 2017, following the strike in medical colleges in Sri Lanka and India, leading to the disruption of classes of 127 Bhutanese medical students, the government instituted a task force to introduce an in-country MBBS course.

Man charged for alleged chicken theft

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:10

… the stolen chickens were sold to labourers

Chencho Dema | Punakha 

Punakha police on January 24 charged a 65-year-old man for stealing three chickens from a poultry farm in Lobesa, Punakha.

According to the farm owner’s complaint, on December 12 night an unidentified person broke into the farm in Manigang under Barp Gewog, Punakha, and took three chickens.

The owner noticed that the planks and metal net from the rear side of the farm were damaged.

The owner, who is from Sangacholing village in Samtse, is a businessman who lives in Lobesa about a kilometre away from the poultry farm. He said in a statement to the police that he had lost chicken several times.

The accused is from Manigang village. The owner named him as a suspect and he was detained.

Police found feathers at a labour camp close to the suspect’s home.

The six labourers admitted to the police that the suspect had visited their camp with three hens and asked them to buy. They paid Nu 1,200 for the three hens.

The labourers were unaware that the hens were stolen and that no charges had been brought against them. The labourers had chicken dinner.

But when questioned, the suspect maintained he had purchased the hens from another source and denied committing any crime.

When questioning the suspect’s wife, she stated that they have no chicken at their home.

The suspect was charged in court with larceny under section 240 of the Penal Code.

Government to continue supporting enterprises: MoENR

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:10

YK Poudel

The Minister for Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR), Loknath Sharma said that the government will continue and expand investment in start-up businesses aimed towards youth skilling and employment.

He said that the ideas from entrepreneurs could be brought into businesses through the government’s assistance. “Support from the government would inspire the entrepreneurs and help in enterprising Bhutan in the long run.”

Lyonpo said that over the years, the government has supported building incubation centres in Thimphu and Samtse, the opening of Cottage and Small Industry Market in Thimphu and soon in Paro are examples of support from the government.

Supporting the entrepreneurs, according to Lyonpo, make things easier for them in “enhancing the skills among the youth.”

“The government will continue to provide industrial development grants as well as support with machinery for the entrepreneurs,” he said. “The production fares and CSI fares that are made easier and wholesome for the Bhutanese entrepreneurs will help in enterprising Bhutan.”

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The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) registered 12,682 job-seekers in the fiscal year 2021-2022.

The Cottage and Small Industry accounts for about 95 percent of the total industries in the country. The CSI department licensed 26,945 CSIs in the country as of 15 June 2022.

According to Labour Force Survey Report, 2021, the unemployment rate is highest in Thimphu at 10.1 percent followed by Paro with 7.7 percent and lowest at 1.5 percent in Bumthang, Dagana, Gasa, and Zhemgang.

The youth unemployment rate is 20.9 percent of which 38.6 percent are male while 61.4 are female.

BTP declares three more candidates 

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:09

Dechen Dolkar  

Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) declared three more candidates, one from Sarpang and two from Samtse on January 25.

The party declared Karma Rinchen, 54, as its candidate from the Gelephu constituency. He has a Master of Education from Edith Cowan University in Australia and a Bachelor of Education from the Samtse College of Education.

With more than 30 years of experience in the civil service, Karma Rinchen served as a teacher, lecturer, dzongrab and drungpa in Mongar, Samtse, Gasa, and Phuentsholing.

The father of two kids is from Tshojan village in Chhuzanggang gewog.

The party also declared Pushpa Raj Humagai, 63, from Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency in Samtse. The 63-year-old is a veteran and served in the government for 17 years after which he started a successful business venture.

Soon after his graduation from St. Joseph’s College, North Point in 1984, Pushpa Raj joined the service as a young trainee officer in Haa dzongkhag.

He studied Economics in college and later did his Masters in Development Planning from Centre for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA), Pune, India.

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Before joining BTP, Pushpa Raj Humagai was running a successful business establishment as a Chief Executive Officer dealing in export, import, mines and minerals, high-end equipment and vehicle tyres.

BTP declared Pasang Dorji, 53, from Phuentshogpelri-Samtse constituency. He has a Masters degree in Education Leadership from the University of Canberra, Australia and Bachelors of Education from the erstwhile National Institute of Education, Samtse.

Pasang Dorji has 27 years of experience as an administrator and educationist. He began his teaching career in 1995 in Samtse and later served as the first headmaster for Dorokha Lower Secondary School.

Pasang Dorji was also appointed as the first drungpa for Sombaykha Drungkhag, Haa.

Before joining politics, he served as Pemagatshel and Samtse Dzongrab for the last five years.

The party has declared 17 candidates so far.

The party president has also completed familiarisation tours in 14 dzongkhags. The party plans to travel to other dzongkhags and cover 205 gewogs, after the National Council elections.

BTP announced its first general assembly to be held at Semtokha, Thimphu on January 30.

Handicraft shops struggling to stay afloat

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:09

Chencho Dema | Punakha

The Chimi Lhakhang in Lobesa, Punakha is a popular tourist destination. The Lhakhang is also very popular among Bhutanese.

As tourists have begun to arrive, the surrounding village has become an ideal centre for local business.

Over time, the number of handicraft shops has grown visibly. There is a total of 18 handicraft shops and galleries in the two villages—11 in Chimipang and seven in Youwakha.

However, due to the increase in Sustainable Development Fee from USD 65 to USD 250 per international tourist, the business is not as lucrative as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sonam, an owner of a handicraft shop, said that in 2010, there was only one handcraft store—High Quality Thangkha. “Now we have many. Competition is stiff. We are now not able to sell as much as we could in the past.”

Most of the business owners are from places outside the community, she added.

Before the pandemic, when there were fewer handicraft shops, Sonam’s shop could make a minimum of Nu 1,000 a day. Now, the daily income from the shop is barely Nu 100.

“I hope the business will pick up in the future,” said Sonam.

Sonam Pelmo, a salesgirl of High Quality Thangkha, said that sales have dropped because it is off-season and there aren’t tourists. “Sales have dropped also because of too many shops.”

Tashi Dolma from Trashigang opened a handicraft shop in Chimipang five years ago. To support the ailing business, she has now opened a small grocery store.

“We have not had a single tourist come in so far,” said Tashi Dolma.

The owner of Doejung Yangkhil Handicraft, Dorji Palden, said sales barely cover the rent. “In the past, I used to make at least Nu 5000 a day. Not anymore. I hope the government will find a solution for the affected businesses like ours.”

BTA to install CCTV cameras in taxis

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:08

YK Poudel

For better taxi service and to curb the cases of theft and crime, Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA) has proposed to install CCTV cameras in taxis in the country.

There are over 7, 000 taxis in the country—2,186 are registered members of BTA.

According to the executive director of the Taxi Association, Tshering Penjor, BTA’s board approved the installation of CCTV cameras in taxis to address complaints of lost property and cases of sexual harassment.

“One approach to address the accusations against the taxi drivers, the rising criminal cases and theft cases in taxis is through the installation of cameras. With this initiative, we will be able to monitor and solve the problems efficiently,” he said.

He said that some passengers leave their belongings in taxis and accuse the drivers of stealing. The Association also receives complaints of sexual harassment of passengers.

“We will install three cameras in each taxi for which we expect financial assistance from the government,” Tshering Penjor said.

According to the taxi drivers, they encounter instances where they are alleged of sexual harassment of passengers for which the installation of the cameras would be beneficial on their part although “there won’t be privacy for the drivers.”

BTA plans to purchase 3500 cameras in its initial period which will assist in improving the security in the taxi.

Yojanas and Basket Bees face off in women’s basketball final 

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:08

Thinley Namgay  

Yojanas will play against Basket Bees in the final of the women’s open basketball championship in Phuentsholing on January 29.

Both the finalists grabbed seven points each after winning three of the four games played in the league round.  The league round ended on January 25.

Yojanas captain, Tshering Palden is confident that her team of young students can beat Basket Bees. “We are newcomers, but played decisively in the league.”

“The only game we lost in the league was against Heat Waves by a point. We lost 40-41,” Tshering Palden said.

She said all team members appeared class XII exams and the basket tournament is one of the platforms to engage themselves during the winter vacation. “Participating in the tournament with close friends is encouraging.”   

“We are preparing for the final,” she said.

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Dechen Zangmo, the captain of Basket Bees said that they expect a tough game in the final. “We lost to Yojanas by three points in the league, but we are confident to face them.”

This is the second appearance in the championship for the Bees.

Dechen said her teammates have been phenomenal this time despite limited training. “We are passionate about basketball.”

Organised by  Phuentsholing Sports Association (PSA), the tournament began on January 15 for both men and women categories.

PSA’s General Secretary, Sonam Lhagyel, said that only five women’s teams and nine men’s teams took part. “This time not many teams participated. This could be one of the lowest turn-ups over the years.”

He said that PSA organised open basketball tournaments twice a year and had at least 15 teams take part in both categories. “Maybe this time, the youths of Phuentsholing are not around or it could also be due to a lack of a sponsor.”

In the men’s tournament, Unknown Ballers will face Majins, and Zippers will play against Unameus today.

Picture story

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:07

 Twenty-five coaches, including six women from various clubs across the country, are participating in the 12-day BFF-AFC ‘C’ Diploma Coaching Course that began yesterday in Thimphu. The training is provided by BFF’s Head of Coach Education Kinley Dorji, Head of Futsal Department Passang Tshering, and Head of Grassroots Football Division, Yeshey Dorji.

Awareness must spread like wildfire

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:07

The cases of fire accidents are rising. We need to be worried.

The causes of wildfires are many; we often point to only the dry weather. What we must understand is that most wildfires occur due to human carelessness. 

According to a global study, improperly extinguished campfires, unsmothered cigarette butts, arson, and improperly burnt debris are responsible for about 85 percent of wildfires.

There have been more than 1,400 forest fire incidents in Bhutan in 10 years. We also know that about 99 percent of fires were anthropogenic (originating due to human activity) in nature and occurred during the winter.

In Bhutan, though, the problem is not just wildfires. Fires breaking out in the rapidly growing settlements are even more serious. The way the settlements are growing in the peripheries of our towns is worrying.

We conveniently blame fire incidents on short circuits! If short circuit is the main cause of fires, it should not be intractable to nip the problem in the bud. Unprofessional wiring is the greatest danger in the country today.

We know where the buck must stop, but duplication of responsibilities is opening up gaps that are becoming wider by the day. We cannot blame our firefighters because they can do only so much if we continue to be careless. 

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We have laws that are supposed to prevent such unfortunate incidents. The Forest and Nature Conservation Act 1995 prohibits any fire in government forests, irrespective of forest type and vegetation sensitive to fire. The National Forest Policy of Bhutan 2011 prohibits fire in fire-sensitive ecosystems but allows the use of fire as a management tool in fire-adapted ecosystems.

These measures, however, are not enough, because they are pockmarked with gaps.

In 2017, under the Royal Command, the first interagency SOP was formulated and various unitiatives were implemented in Thimphu. Under this arrangement, an Interagency Forest Fire Coordinating Group was formed for Thimphu, consisting of members from the authorities concerned.

Every dzongkhag, town, and village must have groups at the ready, especially in the winter when the threat is high.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said recently: “As much as it is an individual responsibility, it is also on the government to render all possible assistance. For the homes, we must ensure the quality of wiring and appliances, availability of electricians in that community, professionalism of the technicians and adherence to minimum standards.”

The ongoing skilling programmes for the village electricians, carried out by agencies like BPC, must be intensified.

We can surely cut down on the cost of fire safety uniforms and equipment. What is urgently needed is safety awareness that must spread like wildfire.

Thromde hopeful of filling gaping teacher shortage

སྤེན།, 01/27/2023 - 12:06

KP Sharma 

Schools in Thimphu thromde saw 196 teachers exit between January 2022 and January 10, 2023. That is on average, more than 16 teachers resign every month.

Of 196, most of the teachers resigned voluntarily according to the record maintained by Thromde Education Office.

To address the teacher shortage, Thimphu thromde submitted a proposal to education ministry after it was done with the teacher requirement exercise (TRE).

According to the education office, the education ministry could place 141 teachers in the schools under thromde in 2023.

The thromde has received 112 teachers on transfer from other dzongkhags, 20 returned from long-term training and studies, and nine from two teacher-training colleges.

The officials said that they are still short of 55 teachers if they go by the numbers of those who left earlier.

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The thromde administration has also requested the ministry for additional National Contract Teachers (NCT) to place an adequate number of teachers in thromde schools.

“It is challenging to get the required teachers on time,” said the official from the thromde education office.

Keeping standby teachers ready is another idea the office is looking for to avoid disruption in the middle of the academic session.

The official said, “It is difficult to replace teachers, especially in the middle of the academic session.”

He added that thromde education office has started to update the data at certain regular intervals so that issues could be resolved faster.

“Replacing technical subject teachers at the higher secondary level is difficult,” he said. Although NCTs could be recruited, he said it takes time for them to cope with the teaching system.  

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When teachers leave the profession in the middle of the academic session, it hampers the delivery of lessons in the schools.

“When we don’t have teachers for a long time, students tend to lose interest in the particular subject,” he said.

Some schools don’t have teachers teaching technical subjects which could hamper the performance of students in long-run. “We are trying every strategy not to keep the students idle or without teachers.”

The officials said that teachers leaving the profession in Thimphu are higher compared to other dzongkhags because of the expensive living expenses.

Kuensel learnt that most of the teachers who left the profession left for Australia and other popular destinations like the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada.

Picture story

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 12:03

  Tsugla Lopon Karma Rangdrol is presiding over the five-day annual moenlam chhenmo in Trashigang with more than 100 monks. It ends on Sunday.

Mongar and Gelephu hospitals to do overseas visa health tests

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 12:00

Nima Wangdi 

Those applying for Australian visa will not have to travel all the way to Thimphu for their health tests from next week.

By the end of this month, the health ministry will also offer the service at the Eastern Regional Referral Hospital in Mongar, and Central Regional Referral Hospital in Gelephu will start e-medical services for overseas visas.

This is expected to reduce the burden on Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu and enable it to reduce the huge backlog of cases seeking e-medical tests.

Anyone planning to go to Australia should have a medical certificate for Visa application and only physicians approved by the Australian government can perform the medical examination. Only a team at JDWNRH was recognised to do it earlier.

JDWNRH was burdened with huge backlogs with many people vying to travel abroad. To make sure that the people get e-medical services without having to wait for long or travel far, the ministry of health, months ago had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MoFAET) to allow Mongar and Gelephu hospitals to start the service.

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MoFAET wrote to the Australian government for approval and Australian Home Affairs approved it on January 17.

Officials from the Ministry of Health earlier had said that the commencement of e-medical services at two more regional hospitals would help reduce the patient load at JDWNRH. “There was also some case where people travelled from far to Thimphu and failed to get appointments on time due to many people rushing for the service.”

A letter from the acting health secretary on January 24 to the two regional referral hospitals stated that training of trainers will be organized at JDWNRH soon who in turn will train people in their own hospitals.

The letter also asked the two hospitals to release their teams that include a medical superintendent, a radiologist, a Physician, a lab technician, X-Ray technician, an eye optometrist, and a receptionist.

RMA cautions public against Tallwin Life Plan ponzi scheme

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:59

Jigmi Wangdi

A ponzi scheme called Tallwin Life Plan has been luring Bhutanese citizens to invest in a fraudulent scheme with promises of generating quick and high financial returns.

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) says that the public should refrain from engaging in investment if any scheme has no genuine product or services sold, emphasises recruiting members down the line, and promises high returns within a short period.

According to officials from the RMA, the Tallwin Life Plan uses the financial contributions from subsequent investors to pay the earlier investors.

“It requires a constant flow of new money to survive, and the scheme collapses when it is not able to recruit new investors, or when large numbers of existing investors cash out.,” an official said.

It is reported that Bhutanese citizens have been lured to take part in the scheme through social media platforms, mainly Telegram.

RMA officials state that there are six types of income in the Tallwin Life Income Plan- sponsor bonus, boosting board income, team-building bonus, team promotion bonus, team performance bonus, and auto pool income.

RMA has been cautioning the public on the scheme as it also violates Section 11 of the Financial Service Act 2011 which states that individuals cannot offer financial services without the proper licence.

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays the returns of existing investors with funds collected from new investors. The organisers of such schemes promise to use the invested money to make huge returns with little or no risk to the investor.

Battery and substance abuse continue to be leading criminal offences

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:59

Criminal activities increased by 681 in 2022

Lhakpa Quendren

The number of criminal offences has risen dramatically in 2022.

In 2021, due largely to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, the number of criminal offences in the country was at 2,818. The number rose to 3,499 in 2022, up by 681.

Battery and substance abuse continue to be the leading criminal offences in the country, followed by larceny, burglary and deceptive practice, among others.

Except for Punakha, Pemagatshel, Samdrupjongkhar, and Zhemgang, all other dzongkhags saw a rise in the number of criminal offences last year.

Thimphu saw the highest spike with 1,462 cases, an increase of 281 cases from 2021.

Chukha saw a rise of criminal cases by 159  last year and Paro by 103.

Zhemgang saw the lowest number of criminal cases—18. Gasa has 26 and Lhuentse 28.

The Deputy Chief of Police, Colonel Passang Dorji, said: “While we have been closely monitoring and dealing efficiently with the cases in the country, it is difficult to reach to and nab the suppliers from outside.”

To curb drug abuse and illicit trafficking, he said that the RBP would open a dedicated drug division in Thimphu and establish more police stations along the southern borders.

Crimes decline on New Year’s Eve

Unlike in the past years, police claimed that there was a decline in criminal cases on New Year’s Eve 2023.

The decline is attributed to extra measures taken by the RBP such as intensified crime control petrol and checking in various places to prevent crimes.

Colonel Passang Dorji said that the initiative helped the RBP to bring the situation under control. “New Year’s Eve this year was better than previous years…It is not because of our immediate actions, but the actions that we have initiated since a few months back on drugs and crime control.”

Many initiatives are being taken by the RBP, he added. “When everybody contributes in their small ways, we can make our communities safe and peaceful.”

Maize sheller helps farmers in Tsirang 

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:57

Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Lok Maya Tamang had a sleepless night on December 16. Earlier that evening, she received a phone call informing her to be in Damphu Town the next day.

Worried, the 59-year-old reached Damphu by eight in the morning on December 17. She was invited to the national day celebrations at the Damphu football ground. She was one of the five progressive farmers selected to receive the maize sheller.

“We had to wait a few hours. I was curious. I saw the machine but didn’t know what it was,” the mother of two from Tsholingkhar Toed said.

Designed by the assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer Kinzang Chophel, the maize sheller can be operated manually and is portable and cheap. It weighs four kilograms.

Lok Maya said: “I don’t have to spend long hours shelling the maize now. I can shell 70kgs of maize in 30 minutes.” Earlier, it took days for her to complete shelling the maize. “It was a tiring process; we got backaches and blisters on our hands.”

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Mon Maya Tamang from Dhajay in Rangthangling said that the sheller has helped her save time and spend on other income-generating activities. “The workload had reduced by three-fold. If we can finish shelling one sack in a day, we can now shell three sacks with the help of the sheller.”

Her neighbours borrowed the sheller from her during the maize harvest season.

Women and the elderly did the shelling most of the time. With the labour shortage, farm work had only increased for ageing Lok Maya and her husband. According to the UN, around the world, women do the vast majority of unpaid work, including childcare, cooking, cleaning, and farming.

Lok Maya grows maize on two acres of land and vegetables on an acre. She sells her produce in Damphu.

However, she said that the sheller could be modified in the future — power operated, adjustable, larger base for stability, and taller in height. Currently, she said that the small corn cannot be shelled in the machine.

Kinzang Chophel said that the sheller would help people living without a constant power supply and those who cannot handle power-operated maize-shelling machines. He researched and explored the design thrice before deciding on the current one. “I thought it would benefit the farmers. Shelling is a tedious process.”

He designed 30 such devices and contributed five to farmers across the dzongkhag during the national day celebrations last year. Each sheller costs Nu 1,500.

No end to water shortage in Wamrong

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:56

Neten Dorji | Wamrong

Bringing water from nearby places has become a daily routine for the hoteliers in Wamrong.

The water shortage is growing in the town.

A restaurant owner, Motilal Biswa, said that he brings water twice a day and has to share with friends and neighbours.

“It has been more than two months since we didn’t get enough water,” said Motilal Biswa. He said that in the past the residents were provided water twice a day. “Now, we do not get even once a day.”

The water shortage has affected the business in the town.

Maintaining hygiene is a severe problem in the town and it is growing.

Residents say that the water shortage problem is not a new problem in Wamrong, adding that uninterrupted safe drinking water sources should be identified.

More than eight hoteliers and about 25 shopkeepers in Wamrong have been facing continued water shortage.

A house owner in the town, Dechen Peldon, said that tenants complain about water shortage almost every day. “Tenants would leave soon. It is difficult for them, I know, but there is no water from the source.”

A civil servant living in the town said that without a water source nearby, hoteliers are forced to travel more than five kilometres to fetch water.

Wamrong Drungpa, Tashi Tenzin, said that the problem is not new and that it has been there for many years. “Due to distance and the increasing number of population, the problem is growing.”

The drungpa said that the drungkhag administration has proposed a water flagship programme to the ministry and identified a water source at Shugushinang.

“Once the water flagship is implemented, it would benefit more than 2,000 households and solve the water problem for good,” said the drungpa.

Tsirang Football Club prepares for national league

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:55

Choki Wangmo | Tsirang  

With the finals played between Gelephu LMG and Bhutan Red Cross Tsirang at the Damphu football ground yesterday, the selection process of players for Tsirang Football Club is finally over.

LMG Gelephu won the match scoring two goals. This could mean that all the players from the winning team could be selected to play for the club.

Vice president of the newly formed club, Uttam Basnet said, “We are selecting 42 best players for the team. Most of them are young and might leave if they get better opportunities. So we are planning to pay them well.”

The club already has a coach and a physiotherapist, according to the vice president.

In May last year, the association selected 30 players from the dzongkhag league but half of them left for other opportunities.

He said that the club members are looking to select players between the age of 19 and 20. According to spectators, the players from Wangdue had more tactical skills.

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Once the team is formed, Tsirang will have its team playing in the qualifying round of the Bhutan Premier League which is expected to begin in April. The club plans to train the players in the next two months.

First of its kind in the dzongkhag, 10 business owners from Damphu established the club. “We are interested in football and we want the younger generations to enjoy the game and have a club of their own,” Uttam Basnet said.  The club was registered with the Bhutan Football Federation which provided the club with the seed money.

A player of LMG Gelephu, Tenzin Tshering, said that he was hopeful that all of his team members would be selected to play for the club. “Most of them are unemployed and would be willing to play full-time.”

Some, he said, played for other clubs in the past. Phurpa Tenzin from his team scored both the goals yesterday. The team won a cash prize of Nu 50,000. Red Cross Tsirang was awarded a cash prize of Nu 30,000.

More than 200 young men in 12 teams from Tsirang, Sarpang, Dagana, and Wangdue participated in the open tournament. Most of them are high school graduates. Each team with 18 players paid an entrance fee of Nu 15,000.

The dzongkhag is also preparing to select women players for the National Women’s League.

A difficult song to sing

པ།, 01/26/2023 - 11:54

At a time when the country is losing talent and experience rapidly, there is a need for far-reaching changes in all sectors.

Skills development initiatives and the many out-of-the-box measures are not helping. In fact, the skills that we spend so heavily on building, are going out of the country, adding to the State’s burden significantly.

When there is an absence of meaningful employment—pay, savings, and security at the end of one’s long career—opportunities are going to waste.

It was first the top talents that we began losing. We did not even notice. Then we began losing mid-career professionals. We felt some pressure. Now, we do not even have students aiming for higher studies after Class XII.

We will continue to lose talents as long as we do not become an economy that produces and exports. But what should worry us today is that we are on the verge of losing even the little that we have.

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The loss of human resource in the education and health sectors is worrying. We have spent millions in building the talent pool in these sectors and we continue to do so. What we do not seem to understand, however, is that the loss of one well-trained professional with several years of experience under his belt can never be replaced by a fresh graduate.

A struggling country like ours, one that is strategically positioned at that, we should have at least a very strong education system. This is a very serious concern. Blueprints and new ideas are failing.

For us to have dedicated, skilled and talented teachers, pay alone will not work. Look at their work burden, for example. Our teachers are trained to teach but they are made to carry out so many responsibilities besides teaching proper that they soon are burnt out.

Bhutanese are leaving abroad in droves because they do not see a secure future. How do we reassure our people that the future of our children is bright and promising in Bhutan?

Our many policies should meet at one point. The time has come.  Our aim should be to build a nation that looks forward.

Losing talent and experience, especially in the education sector, is a very worrying sign.