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Bhutan's Daily Newspaper
Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Bhutan out of SAFF U-15 Championship

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 16:00

Nepal reached the finals of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under-15 Championship after defeating Bhutan 5-0 at the Kalyani Stadium in Kolkata, India yesterday.

In a clear case of dominance, Nepal had the control from the kick off. The first two goal of the match came in the first 10 minutes of the match. A penalty in the fifth minute, which was converted by midfielder, Pradip Lamsal, gave Nepal an early lead.

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Home Minister appeals to High Court

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:11

Home Minister, Sherub Gyeltshen has appealed to the High Court, within 24 hours against the judgment rendered by the Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench I on August 27.

The minister was sentenced to two months in prison for claiming false vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546.

The minister’s attorney, Yeshey Wangdi, said that his client chose to appeal  because the case involved ‘question of law and question of facts’. The appeal was submitted to the High Court yesterday.

According to the appeal letter, when Lyonpo claimed the insurance from Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (RICBL), he already had valid comprehensive insurance scheme on his vehicle. 

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had earlier submitted that the vehicle bearing number BP-1-B0077, which was registered as a third party insurance scheme until July 5, 2016, was upgraded to comprehensive insurance scheme on June 4 valid for a year.

OAG had alleged that the vehicle had two insurance covers between July 6, 2016 and June 3, 2017 in violation of the rules of the company.

However, the attorney said the minister’s innocence could be proved. “There are critical evidences submitted to the court proving the innocence of my client which are left unattended by the Trial Court,” the appeal letter stated.

Yeshey Wangdi said that the conviction was based on the vague statement submitted during the investigation period to which the prosecutor failed to prove the statement with the corroborating evidences vitiating the admission made by his client.

“We have had expert witness summoned to the court upon request by the prosecutor, but the statement of expert witness substantiating the genuineness and legitimacy of such claims were not taken into account,” he said.

He added that the case warranted the expert opinion and justice would only prevail on the opinion of the expert. “However, such evidences, so cardinal, were not reflected to reason the judgment.”

The court ordering his client to refund the claim was not in line with the risk and guarantee of the insurance policy, Yeshey Wangdi said. “This claim is duly availed from the company against the premium paid by the customer covering the risk involved therein and this shall not, at all, be deemed to be the money of the company or public.”

He said that it was unfortunate for Lyonpo who was a respectable figure to have to faces this situation, more so at a time when he was serving the last mile of his career.

“Lyonpo Sherub has served the Tsa-Wa-Sum in various positions with utmost commitment and dedication for more than 37 years,” he said. “After having retired from the civil service, Lyonpo could have conveniently lived a peaceful retired life. But in his response to the call of the nation, and upon repeated persuasion from the party, he joined the political fray.”

Yeshey Wangdi said that the issue from three years ago was brought to the limelight last year as the nation was gearing towards the third parliamentary elections. “The case may not have surfaced, let alone receive any attention, under normal circumstances.”

Meanwhile, the minister the former executive director of RICBL and three other officials in the company and the proprietor of an automobile workshop were convicted in relation to false insurance claim amounting to Nu 226,546.

Younten Tshedup

Kiwi farmer wants to promote urban-rural migration

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:10

Kalyan Mahat  from Doonglagang in Tsirang, who left his grocery and electronics business in Thimphu to take up kiwi farming in his village became the first certified organic kiwi farmer in the country earlier this month.

He harvested about 500kg Red Enza variety of kiwi fruits in 2018, which was his first major harvest. This year, he produced about 1,200kg of the fruit from plants that are between three and four years old.

However, marketing the fruit remains a challenge given that kiwi is relatively a new fruit in the country and the small domestic market. The low purchasing power and lack of advocacy are an additional challenge.

According to him, many people are still not aware of it and its health benefits.

The agriculture entrepreneur said production from his farm was expected to reach up to 20,000kg within a few years when another variety of kiwi called Hayward starts giving fruits.

“The prices of kiwis fruits are high as they are a high-value cash crop that requires high investments and orchard management skills,” he said.

However, the price of his produce ranges from Nu 10 to Nu 300 per packet so that everyone can afford.

He said that even though it was challenging for farmers to apply a fully organic method of farming, many people did not differentiate between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables.

However, producing organic fruits was the only way Bhutanese entrepreneurs could compete in the international markets, he added.

He said the country lacked cold storage facilities and easy access to international markets, processing technology, and machinery.  Kiwi, he said, could be an important source of income for farmers and help the country earn the hard currency.

Thimphu is the biggest market. Kalyan Mahat also delivers the fruit to all the twenty dzongkhags through online marketing.

He is also aiming at markets abroad.

A small kiwi farm, he said, would be sufficient to earn a significant amount of income to the farmer. “Landholding in Bhutan is small which can be used to cultivate high-value cash crops.”

Kalyan has also set up a nursery to substitute import of kiwi plants and to provide quality and healthy seedlings to interested farmers. “I also promote kiwi farming technical assistance in person and through social media to villagers, unemployed youth, office-goers etc.”

According to him, several people are now taking up kiwi farming. He wants to promote “urban-rural migration” so that fallowed land is utilised and employment opportunities created.

Kiwi had great potential for value-added products, Kalyan said. He wants to make kiwi pickles to diversify his product.

Kalyan received the kiwi saplings through a special permit facilitated by Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the ministry of agriculture.

“My next plans are to set up a small unit in the village to process the fruits to add value to the product,” Kalyan said.

Kalyan Mahat’s Ashish Horticulture & Kiwi Nursery was certified as an organic farm by the Department of Agriculture in compliance with the requirements of Bhutan Organic Standard. 

MB Subba

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen graces the launch of SELWA

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:09

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen graced the launch of SELWA, an organization that will support and complement programs for people with disabilities in Bhutan.

SELWA will work with other stakeholders within the coutry, including organisations that currently work with people with disabilities, as well as various sections of the government, to help better coordinate efforts geared towards creating a more inclusive society, including in relation to education, growth and employment, and enhancing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Selwa is a dzongkha word which means Clarity– in selfless Commitments. It was chosen to invoke great consciousness and mindfulness in selfless service and actions.

SELWA is partnering with Bussi-En International Social Welfare Organization, Japan Overseas Cooperative Organization, the GoI Architectural Research Centre, and Daishizen. Bussi-En is a Japan- based social welfare organisation.

At the launch event, the President of Bussi-En, who also heads the JOCA, Ryosei Oya, said that the people of Japan were deeply inspired by Their Majesties’ Royal Visit to Japan and especially Fukushima in 2011, and is pleased to work with Bhutan to support initiatives for the wellbeing of people of disabilities. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bussi-En and SELWA at the event today.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen works closely with the various organisations and agencies in Bhutan towards enhancing the wellbeing of persons with disabilities and creating a more inclusive society.

Zups of Sembji village denies allegation made by the threps

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:08

The zups (people living in peripheral or splintered households) of Sembji village in Trongsa denied the allegations made by the threps (tax paying households) that the zups are not contributing for village activities.

Rebutting against the allegations on August 27, a representative each from the 10 zup households have come to the court.

They submitted to the court that the allegations are baseless and they have always contributed labour for farm road, electricity and drinking water equally.

They submitted to the court that the threps inherited the ancestral home and land and they settled themselves without anything.

They claimed that the ancestral thram mandates the one who owns the inherited land to take responsibility like paying tax and contributing labour.

The threps alleged that the zups refused to contribute for the annual nyungnye (fasting ritual) and luedoem (three-day annual ritual conducted in the seventh month of the Bhutanese calendar).

The zups submitted to the court that the threps own cattle and they have to conduct the rituals since olden days. They submitted that they would not be able to contribute for the rituals.

Rebutting against the allegations made by threps that the zups are not taking the role of koenyer (lhakhang caretaker), the zups said although it was the responsibility of the threps to be the koenyer, a layman from the zup community took up the role for more than 40 years.

They also claimed the threps were responsible to provide the ration for the koenyer since olden days, as they owned more arable land.

The zups also alleged that the gewog dispute committee had just created awareness, but did not study the matter in-depth by taking into account the traditional responsibilities.

They claimed that the committee took side of the threps and asked to them to take all responsibilities equally.

On August 8 last year, Nubi gewog administration issued an office order, stating that as per the government’s policy of distributing all benefits equally among the community, all the households should also contribute equally.

The zups alleged that they were not aware of the gewog’s order.

The threps will rebut on September 5.

Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Caretaker allegedly terminated for being a woman

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:07

For more than a month, the caretaker of Kana gewog, Dagana had been running to offices in the dzongkhag and Thimphu after the gewog terminated her.

The caretaker, a woman, was relieved from work through a letter on July 18, which stated that the gewog tshogde (GT) decided to relieve her from official duty.

The reason, according to the office order was that most of the GT members found her work inconsistent.

“Firstly, your health doesn’t favour to perform the daily official duty related works, as you have to frequently visit the hospital for checkup. Secondly, there is problem in lifting and unloading materials for the gewog administration. Thirdly, there is difficulty in clearing the bushes around the gewog office,” stated the letter.

The office order also stated that GT would recruit a male caretaker from September.

The minutes of GT meeting Kuensel obtained stated the GT members observed that as a woman the caretaker couldn’t deliver her service.

It stated that the work of caretaker is to help in loading and unloading heavy materials like rural water supply scheme (RWSS) construction materials, gewog equipment and furniture. “But being a lady, she was not able to render the service.”

It also stated that when gewog officials have to attend emergencies like fire incidents, the caretaker couldn’t attend, as she is a lady. “Further, she has health issues and frequently visit hospitals for medical checkups.”

The minutes of the meeting also stated that although the caretaker has to clear the bushes and maintain the gewog office surrounding, she could not do the job and the gewog officials have to do the maintenance and hire people to cut grass.

The woman appealed to the Dagana dzondag on July 22, claiming she has been fulfilling her duty for the last eight years and the gewog never hired anyone to do works for the gewog.

She also submitted that although the gewog office is not the place where the construction materials are kept, she had done the unloading and lifting works whenever necessary. “I was never reprimanded for not doing my job.”

She submitted that terminating her because she is a woman is gender discrimination.

The woman was advised to go to the labour ministry for grievance settlement.

Officials from labour ministry forwarded the case to Royal Civil Service Commission.

The woman had also appealed to the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and the director wrote to the RCSC chairperson for assistance, stating that after reviewing the case, the commission found the reasons baseless and discriminatory.

“Moreover, the gewog officials have not issued any warning letter or reprimanded before deciding to terminate her,” the NCWC letter stated.

The woman told NCWC that she visited hospital because she was pregnant.

RCSC’s deputy chief human resource officer for civil servants’ well-being division, Sherab Zangpo, said they reviewed the case and found that the woman was recruited by the GT. “It’s has got nothing to do with RCSC.”

NCWC’s director Kunzang Lhamu said they are now planning to forward the case to labour ministry again, as it is related to labour and employment dispute.

“Usually, RCSC is involved in recruitment in government organisation and we were trying to find out how she was recruited,” she said. “We even inquired with the Department of Local Governance and they said she was recruited based on an order that empower GT to recruit.”

She said that it’s sad a woman can be terminated based on her gender.

Tashi Dema

Picture story

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:06

Bhutanese in Canberra offer prayers for late Tim Fischer,  the former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and a close friend of Bhutan, on August 25.

The Australia-Bhutan Association of Canberra organised the special prayer ceremony presided over by the Pedtsheling Trulku.

Tapping into the capital market

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:05

The country’s capital market is witnessing strange developments, of late.

The fate of mining companies listed on the stock exchange rests with the renewal of their lease agreement. A couple of listed companies that had been around for decades were notified to delist given the skimpy public shareholding.

Perhaps, five of the 21 listed companies face the threat of delisting.  This is the fate of the smallest stock exchange in the world that has just begun to explore new technologies and platform to promote stock market.

On the contrary, we are witnessing a new generation of entrepreneurs who are tapping into opportunities in the capital market. The case in point is the Bhutan Alternatives, a startup going public through the crowdfunding platform and two others who are still raising fund. These startups, as they evolve, deserve attention of our decision makers. They seem promising  to show the way to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

Another trend in the stock market is the skyrocketing share prices of existing companies even in the absence of new shares being floated since 2014. This is leading to overvaluation of companies, given the earnings per share they offer. Put simply, the value of same number of shares increased by Nu 11B between 2015 and 2018.  The only company that went for initial public offering (IPO), two days ago, is a relatively small private company.

Listing a company will ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability. It is simply the process of evolution from an unsystematic and authoritarian way of doing business to a more organised and democratic corporate culture. For these simple reasons, firms like Facebook, Google and Apple have numerous shareholders and are doing well in the global capital market.

But why is our private sector, that always mulls over lack of support from government, shy away from listing, including the big players?

Big players in the private sector do not find enough incentive to do so and bigger companies under the government and DHI umbrella claim that they have bigger mandate.  For instance, promoters and investors are double taxed while in other countries tax imputation credit on the dividend are provided.

From the revenue perspective, in 2017 alone, 19 listed companies paid a CIT of Nu 1.26B. This is almost equal to tax paid by 31,551 private businesses. There is also an opportunity to curb revenue leakage by encouraging more businesses to list.

There are also ample anecdotes revealing that employees of listed companies enjoy more credibility and security. They attract talent and skills compared with the private entities, who lose good people to bigger firms. This should be seen as  an opportunity to create secured form of employment 

The government’s private sector development committee, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the stock exchange must work together to relook at the legislations and incentives and taxes.

The government must realise the benefits of getting more companies on the stock exchange, not just for sake of it but to drive public investment into the capital market. For now, it seems that focus is on the CSIs, which is fine. But it cannot afford to turn a blind eye on what is already there-a low hanging fruit.

If the private sector is the engine of growth, our favourite cliché, capital market is the locomotive of private sector.

iMerit launches delivery centre in Thimphu

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:04

iMerit, A data service company specialising in machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, e-commerce, and Fintech, launched its delivery centre in Thimphu TechPark yesterday.

The founder of iMerit, Radha Basu, said that the company expected to bring together components of human-empowered computing by involving young people in business and technology. “Human intelligence, coupled with technological intelligence, would be an effective tool in solving problems in any sector of development.”

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Fishponds without water in Langchenphu

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:03

Farmers in Langchenphu gewog, Samdrupjongkhar, whose main source of income is fishery, are struggling without adequate water, especially in winter.

Farmers depend on rainwater and irrigation water in summer but the fish ponds remain dry in winter.

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Lemongrass oil extraction picks up in Mongar

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:02

It is usually the men who are involved. Lemongrass extraction is a strenuous process that requires hard labour. Women mind the lighter chores.

About 45 kilometres from Mongar towards Trashigang, in Pahadang, is a small lemongrass extraction unit. Kinzang Tshomo from Pam, Chaskhar runs the unit that has a very tentative look to it.

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New IPO after five years

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:01

A private e-commerce and trading company has invited the public to buy 19M of its shares at Nu 13 each.

Sherza Ventures Limited (SVL) has launched its initial Public Offering (IPO) on August 27 to raise Nu 247M from the public. SVL is the first comapny going for IPO after a gap of five years in the stock market, the last one being GIC-Bhutan Reinsurance company in 2014.

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Picture story

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:00

About 60 people came to exchange subsidised LPG cylinders with the non-subsidised at the Damchen fuel station, Changzamtog yesterday. The department of trade organised the event to support the ‘Our Gyenkhu” initiative.

Thimphu dzongkhag court convicts six, including home minister

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 16:01

Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench I convicted Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen to two months in prison for claiming false vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546.

According to the judgment passed yesterday, the statements shared by Lyonpo on claiming insurance for his vehicle were inconsistent in nature.

Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen in his intimation letter to Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (RICBL) stated that his Toyota Prado met with an accident at Lamperi on the Thimphu-Wangdue highway on July 21, 2016.

In another statement Lyonpo claimed that his car engine malfunctioned when it was on the way to Mongar.

There were no proves to indicate the accident actually happened, the judgment stated.

It was then when the former executive director (ED) of RICBL, Sonam Dorji offered his help to claim insurance on the Lyonpo’s vehicle. Knowing that Lyonpo was not eligible for the insurance claim, the two then decided make a false claim.

For submitting false letter to make insurance claims, Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen is charged of fraud under section 311 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.

The section states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of fraudulent obtaining of insurance, if the defendant presents a false statement as part of an application for commercial or personal insurance or as part of claim for payment on a commercial or personal insurance policy.

The offence is graded petty misdemeanor and can pay thrimthue in lieu of prison terms.

He is also asked to refund the full amount to the insurance company through the Office of Attorney General (OAG).

The former executive director, Sonam Dorji is charged with two offences of misusing his position. He is charged of changing the insurance cover of Lyonpo’s vehicle insurance from third-party to comprehensive scheme. He had also asked his subordinates to change the scheme without inspecting the vehicle and giving Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen a claim of Nu 226,546.

For the two counts of misuse of position, Sonam Dorji is convicted for one year, which is graded misdemeanor.

RICBL’s general manager, Sangay Wangdi was also sentenced to six months in prison for solicitation and asking inspection officer, Ugyen Namdrol to get blank cash receipts from an automobile workshop to adjust the claims.

Ugyen Namdrol is charged for forgery and deceptive practice. He is charged for fetching a blank receipt to adjust claims of Nu 125,746. He was also a member of the claims committee and signed the resolution deceiving the committee to pay the claimant. He is sentenced for one year.

Another RICBL official, Sangay Dorji is also sentenced for one month for aiding and abetting as he signed the committee resolution despite knowing that the claim violated the company’s rules.

The proprietor of Dagap workshop, Yonten Phuntsho is also charged for aiding and abetting as he allegedly gave the cash receipt to Ugyen Namdrol despite knowing that it is not allowed. He is sentenced to six months.

The convicts can appeal in the next 10 working days.

Younten Tshedup

ACC tells RCSC to suspend MoLHR DG

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:59

The Royal Civil Service Commission is yet to receive the letter the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) sent asking the commission to suspend the labour and human resources ministry’s director general (DG) Sherab Tenzin.

ACC claimed it sent the letter on the evening of August 26.

According to ACC, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged the DG of the Department of Employment and Human Resources on four counts of offences related to two different overseas employments in Japan and India at the Thimphu dzongkhag court on August 23.

ACC stated that its letter is in line with the Section 168 of the ACC Act of Bhutan 2011. “As per Section 167(2) of the ACC Act 2011, the agency concerned is required to suspend the public servant charged,” the letter stated. “However, if it decides not to suspend, the commission should ensure that the DG does not use public resources including office time to appear before the court.”

RCSC’s official said that since there was a commission meeting for the entire day, the letter might not have reached the office yet. “However, such letter is a regular letter where the ACC would recommend for the suspension,” an official said.

The official said that the commission would discuss and decide on the case based on Supreme Court’s directives issued on July 17, 2013, as it is always done case by case and as per the situation whether to suspend or not. “Since the letter has been sent, we will now look into it and review on the suspension after we receive it.”

Meanwhile, the commission in April this year decided to wait for the court’s judgment after ACC had recommended to the labour ministry to take administrative action against the DG after sharing the ACC’s investigation report with the RCSC.

However, Chapter 19 of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulation (BCSR) 2018 states that the authority to impose a penalty on a civil servant shall be exercised by the respective authority. Since the director general is in the executive position, as per the BCSR, only RCSC can investigate and take action on the DG and not the agency.

Both minor and major penalty can be imposed on the EX1-EX3/ES1-ES3 level only by the RCSC while an agency can impose a penalty on the civil servants from P1-04 level.

RCSC official said that there were cases where a public servant was suspended based on the recommendations and when the official was acquitted, they had to reinstate him or her. “This is why the commission had earlier decided to wait for the court’s judgment to take action against the DG. So, this time we’ll have to review carefully on the suspension.”

Until 2013, ACC suspended public servants who were charged before the court directly. The Supreme Court on July 17, 2013 issued a directive stating that suspension as an administrative matter must be assigned to a competent authority under which the official to be suspended works.

“However, the ACC may unilaterally suspend officials during the course of the investigation to ensure non-interference and prevent possible destruction of evidence or continuance of the malfeasance by an individual while in office,” the Supreme Court directive stated.

The directive also stated that once charges are filed before the court, it must be optional at the discretion of the competent authority and not mandatory or for an indefinite period – the law must be applied uniformly. “However, where a public official charged and prosecuted by the OAG or ACC in a court of law is not suspended, then the public official must be represented by a legal counsel of his choosing and may appear in court only as a witness or when summoned by the court at his own expense.”

It also stated that suspension is a temporary measure, an executive tool for action and does not create a vacancy until such time the individual suspended is found guilty by a court in keeping with the due process of law.

Yangchen C Rinzin

BNB launches four banking services

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:57

With the launch of Bhutan National Bank (BNB) payment gateway, yesterday, tour operators can now directly receive payment from its international visitors.

The system that rides on the national online international payment gateway will accept 135 different currencies from around the world and cards including VISA, Mastercard, AMEX and Discover, among others.

Without proper payment gateway, tour operators had to spend weeks processing payment of visa fees from their international guests. Some tour operators shared bitter experiences of having lost visitors due to the lengthy and unsecure banking processes.

Coinciding with the official inauguration of its corporate building, yesterday, BNB also launched three other services- BNB Ngotshab, BNB Thuendrel Gatshor and Loan Origination System.

BNB Ngotshab is a banking solution where agents across the country will assist people in availing the bank’s services. People using this service will be able to carry out transactions across any bank in Bhutan.

Strategy officer of BNB, Diwas Puri said the any individual or business entity can become an agent. “They will be given incentives for carrying out the transactions.”

For the start, BNB has partnered with Bhutan Post, considering its presence in all parts of the country.

This service covers account opening, balance inquiry and payment of utility bills, loan installments, insurances, taxes and mobile recharge.Customers of other banks can also withdraw cash and perform balance inquiry.

BNB Ngotshab intends to reach the un-banked population to be a part of the financial network and aims at enhancing customer satisfaction and financial inclusion.

The relationship pricing module or BNB Thuendrel Gatshor is another service that aims to acknowledge and reward clients, extensively engaging with the bank.  It will enable focused attention and align the system to serve selected clients.

The bank will also offer cash-back reward, fee-waiver, discount on services like bank guarantees and letters of credits among others to those select customers

Aligning with the latest Fintech solution, BNB launched a new iteration- Loan Origination System (LOS).

LOS is a digital system to manage applications and loan disbursement system. It helps in simplifying document appraisal process. The new feature will accelerate loan delivery, automate repetitive tasks, track loan applications and enable more transparent decisions.

For the financial institutions, LOS enables user to create data-driven solutions. The new feature is expected to improve the credit management system of the bank.

Finance Minister, Namgay Tshering, who inaugurated the corporate building said that bank’s credit relationship has grown by over 40 times from Nu 687 million to about Nu 30 billion in four decades. “There is immense development in the bank. It is one of the banks that offer employment opportunities and a high salary to the employees,” he said.

Phub Dem

From waste to a Nu 22M company

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:56

Five years ago, a young entrepreneur molded an outlandish idea into a startup. He collected wasted printer cartridges, refurbished them and sold it as an eco-friendly technology.  

Today, the startup, Bhutan Alternatives (BA) is a Nu 22.6M company. It is the first company to raise equity from crowdfunding.

Leki Dawa’s story is that of an entrepreneurial journey – of perseverance and will among numerous failures and rejections. “This is definitely not the end. I am still a struggling entrepreneur,” said the 38-year-old entrepreneur after the closing of the crowd sourcing yesterday.

Without collateral, financial institutions turned down his proposal. He borrowed money from relatives and friends to kickstart. A year later, Loden and DHI entrepreneurship programmes supported his venture with Nu 3M, without collateral.

Bhutan Alternatives began by re-manufacturing printer cartridges, which otherwise goes to the landfill. Technically, the drum and other components have longer life. Those damaged are effectively refurbished and toner is filled with ink powders.

Every BA Toner and Cartridges bears the trademark of official approval and ratification of intellectual property department.

Leki Dawa, the man behind BA is driven by three values in business- Contribution to the economy, environmental preservation and employment generation. 

The BA, last year alone has collected more than 15,000 waste printer cartridges and sold them in the local market. BA is also employing and training underprivileged youth for the job. At one point, he employed about 30 youth. “But circumstances has forced me to retrench last month to survive. Currently I have 17 employees and I will employee more,” he said.

The Bhutan Power Corporation, he said, is the first company to give all its used cartridges across its offices in the country to BA. While the Cabinet and other institutions have supported the move, he said still many cartridges go to waste and land at the landfills.

The bigger dream and crowdfunding

Leki Dawa has bigger plans, to headway BA as a one-stop firm to purchase eco-friendly, high quality and affordable electronic gadgets, alternatively reducing the pressure of e-waste. 

BA will collect e-waste like television, mobile phones, laptops or washing machines, refurbish them and sell it at an affordable price. This is both upscaling and diversification.

The plan would need more investment. Leki Dawa, during the BEFIT conference learnt about Bhutan crowdfunding. He was also selected for the Jyabchor platform, similar to angel investors. “But I didn’t agree to the terms which basically pushes us to slog and investors take their cut,” he said.

“With the crowdfunding, BA is not Leki Dawa’s property but a public property,” he said. “This is my dream-to go for an IPO eventually.”

 Bhutan Crowdfunding aims to provide an alternate financing model for start-ups, new business ventures and startups in the country to raise small amount of funds from a large number of individuals while providing new investment avenues for the public. It is an equity financing, similar to buying shares. Investors would be rewarded with returns on the equity, should the business prosper. 

The advantage in crowdfunding, Leki Dawa said, is that he will now have more than 50 ambassadors to market his products, who have a stake in BA.

The chief executive officer of the Royal Securities Exchange, Dorji Phuntsho said that it is perfect for small businesses because they can’t go for initial public offering (IPO). However, he said unlike public listed companies, investors of crowd funding cannot dictate the terms of business. This means that the promotor or the founder can implement their ideas without any objection from investors. 

Since the launch of the platform last month, three ventures, Bhutan Alternatives, Freelancer Bhutan and Himalayan Food have been raising funds. While the other two are also attracting investment, BA has sold out its entire share a month before deadline.

The online crowdfunding platform was developed inhouse by the RSEBL over a period of nine months.

Leki Dawa has diluted 834,000 shares to its investors at a face value of Nu 10 per share. His paid up capital is about Nu 6M. The market capitalization, informal size of the company is about Nu 22.6M. 

Officials from the RSEBL said the BA will now have to disclose its financial and management information to its shareholders. “But it is a historical breakthrough for a startup to transform into a formal corporate culture from a sole proprietorship,” said CEO Dorji Phuntsho.

Given that the startups are untested in the economy, he said that it also becomes the responsibility of the stock exchange to protect investors and ensure success. However, investors in crowdfunding suffer least shocks if the business fails. This is due to a small amount of investment. “This is the risk investor have to take,” the CEO said.

From the macroeconomic perspective, when small companies scale up, the immediate impact is on the employment generation. Subsequently, there would be demand creation and through the revenue and taxes, it will contribute to the fiscal balance of the government.

Scope

According to trade statistics, Bhutan imported only about 418 printer cartridges from India, China, Singapore, Thailand and United Kingdom in 2018.

Leki Dawa collected more than 15,000 waste cartridges in the same year alone. “Where is the tax money going?” said Leki Dawa. 

As far as he is concerned, most of the cartridges brought in from India are refurbished too, sold with the price tag of original ones.

BA plans to venture into Indian, Nepalese and Bangladeshi market riding on his competitive edge – using e-waste as raw materials. Quality is their, top priority. But there is one concern – the economy of scale.

Tshering Dorji

What next for the home minister?

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:54

The Thimphu dzongkhag court yesterday evening convicted Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen and handed him a two-month imprisonment term for claiming false vehicle insurance.

By late evening, the question doing the round was what would happen to him. Will he be removed from office? Will there be a by-election. Netizens are doing their own analysis. Some havealready written the minister off.

The home minister has 10 days to appeal against the verdict or pay thrimthue (compensation) instead of staying two months in prison.

One thing, however, is clear. The minister was implicated in the case before he contested as the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa candidate from Mongar in the last parliamentary election. Call it political vendetta or ill luck, just before the 2018 elections, the Anti Corruption Commission while investigating RICBL unearthed a case involving the minister. The minister had manipulated insurance rules and claimed vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546.

The rules are clear. Section 179 of Election Act of Bhutan states that a person shall be disqualified as a candidate or a member holding an elective office under the Constitution, if he or she has been convicted for any criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment. The home minister is convicted for criminal offence and sentenced for imprisonment.

If that is not enough, the Constitution, the “mother of all laws” states the same. The length of the imprisonment term is immaterial. The provision in the Constitution is to protect the public from tainted candidates in all instances. The home minister can stil prove his innocence. 

In interpreting section 179, an ECB guideline states that “Criminal Conviction” means a judgment by a court of law which declares a voter to be guilty of an act in violation of a law and for which he/she is given a prison term.

The purpose of the guideline is to ensure that members of the society who are qualified, of high moral standing, who have the best interest of the nation and uphold the highest traditions of probity and morality in public life, get the opportunity to contest an election.

It is also to prevent convicted criminals or any voter against whom criminal charges have been framed in a Court of Law from becoming or serving as policy and lawmakers.

The home minister, before he joined politics, was a respected figure in the country. He was known for his simplicity and humility. He might have claimed the false insurance on the alleged suggestion of RICBL officials, but in the court of law, a partner in crime is a criminal. Having served as a judge himself, he knows the rule best.

The final decision will be known if the home minister decides to appeal and what judgment higher courts would rule. But the current case also highlights what is happening in our system.

It proves that insurance and claims could be manipulated depending on who is the client. It is alleged that inspectors of insurance companies can determine who gets what. It is sad that the common man gets the worst deal.

Sherubtse College starts single degree programmes

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:53

The Sherubtse College in Kanglung, Trashigang started five new single degree programmes from August.

The programmes are the BSc Geography, BA Economics, BA History, BA Media Studies, and BA in English.

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‘Dagap farm festival’ to be held annually

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 15:51

In what is seen as a major move to boost the socioeconomic development in Dagana, the ‘dagap farm festival’ will be held annually starting this year.

This was decided at the Dagana’s Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) on August 26.

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