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Bhutan's Daily Newspaper
Updated: 2 hours 19 min ago

Plugging the loopholes

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:47

When it is time to file the annual income tax next January, another important document the revenue and customs department would look for is rental receipts issued to tenants.

The receipts will help officials know how much the taxpayer has earned through rental income. It will help prevent under-declaring of income or, more importantly, tax evasion. The simple receipt is crucial even as we are talking about reforms in our taxation system.

Housing is a big issue in the country. It had been for a long time. The common complaint is the soaring rent driven by a shortage of housing. Rents are increased at the whims of the landlords even with a Tenancy Act in place. But when it is time to file their returns, landlords drag their feet. They look for connections at the tax office, reduce the rent in the tax papers and even request officials for manipulation.

Just having a simple paper will prevent this. Officials will conduct surprise compliance check and penalise defaulters.

However, this is not a new rule. The notification from the tax office is a reminder. The rule had been in place since 2012. The only difference is it was not followed or implemented as intended.

How much effective the reminder is will be determined by how it is monitored. It is not like the civil servant income where tax is deducted at the source. Strict monitoring and cross-checking will help here.

The responsibility also falls on tenants, who so far had been crying foul in the house rent debate. If they insist on receipts, a portion of the “exorbitant” rent they pay will get into the government coffer.

If tax officials are serious, the rule should not stop with issuing receipts. It has to be cross-checked. Although house rent is not tax-deductible, cross-checking the rental income declared with the receipt issued to a tenant could expose under-declaration or tax evasion. Most tenants also pay income tax.

The new government has tax reforms in its election manifesto. There is pressure from donors and development partners to improve our domestic revenue generation. While taxing the people for revenue is not a popular move, loopholes have to be plugged. There is a leakage of government revenue because of the way we conduct business or implement rules and regulations.

The business income tax, for instance, is one area. While big businesses have the proper paperwork to prove income and expenditure, it is difficult to assess other smaller business. Taxes are imposed based on visual inspection. This is why when it is tax time most shops hide their goods in stores. Empty or half-filled shelves indicate the business is not good. Therefore, tax imposed is less.

Then there are other businesses, which we call “informal business”, that is not taxed. A growing number of Bhutanese buy directly by placing orders online. From toys to vehicle spare parts, online stores deliver goods at our doorstep. Nobody is paying tax.

Some businesses function from homes with the help of social media. These informal businesses are illegal because they do not pay tax. And it is growing even involving third-country imports.

DRC asks landlords to issue rental receipts

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:43

The Department of Revenue and Custom (DRC) has asked landlords to issue rental receipts to tenants which is expected to help declare the personal income tax (PIT) accurately.

It has been noticed that proprietors do not declare PIT in according to their income.

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RCSC conducts training on ‘search inside yourself’ for teachers

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:42

A total of 104 teachers are participating in ‘search inside yourself’ (SIY) training in Thimphu.

The five-day training that began yesterday is expected to help individuals nurture the practice of mindfulness to develop emotional intelligence, improve focus and to become more resilient and compassionate.

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Dairy business picking up in Trashiyangtse

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:41

Every gewog in Trashiyangtse has an interested dairy farmers group, supplying more than 700 litres of fresh milk to the milk processing units.

This has resulted in an easy availability of dairy products for the town and Doksum residents.

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Bumthang farmers ask for a potato auction yard

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:39

Farmers in Bumthang are busy harvesting potatoes. The harvest comes after five months of hard work and guarding against wild boars, pest and unfavourable weather.

As the farthest dzongkhag from the auction yard in Phuentsholing, most of them say there is a need for an auction yard in the locality.

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FCBL employees surrender their subsidised LPG

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:38

In line with the “Citizen’s Initiative: Our Genkhur,” employees of Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) in Phuentsholing voluntarily surrendered their subsidised Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders for non-subsided cylinders on August 16.

A total of 46 subsidised LGP cylinders was surrendered and officials availed 64 non-subsidised LPG cylinders.

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Picture story

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:41

In honour of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan, a Royal Luncheon was hosted at the Grand Kuenrey of the Tashichhodzong.  His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and Members of the Royal Family graced the event, at which the Prime Minister, government officials and representatives of the two countries were present.   A cultural performance by school students, the Royal Institute of Performing Arts, and members of Bhutan Film Association, themed around Bhutan-India friendship, preceded the Luncheon.

Bhutan-India ties: An example of bilateral relations

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:39

The state visit of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who left the country yesterday afternoon, is an example of bilateral relations between nations in the entire world.

PM Modi and Lyonchhen inaugurates the commemorative stamps marking five decades of hydropower cooperation

Dowsed in emotions, the Indian Prime Minister said that his two-day visit to Bhutan is an unforgettable moment and even more is the warm gesture and compassionate hearts of the Bhutanese.

In his address to the students at the Royal University of Bhutan he said: “No other countries understand each other so well.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was enthralled by his visit to Bhutan’s first Dzong in Semtokha and his audience with both His Majesty The King and His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, from where he claimed to have received guidance on Bhutan-India relations in the times to come.

Semtokha Dzong for the first time in history hosted a bilateral meeting.

Inside the Dzong, PM Modi sat down before the statue of Buddha and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to pray for few minutes.

In his press statement, he announced Bhutan could keep the 250-year-old statue of Zhabdrung, housed in the Asiatic Society building in Kolkata, for another five years.

The statue measuring six feet tall is believed to have been found by a British officer, captain Hadyat Ally during the Duar War that Bhutan fought with the British in 1864 and donated it to the Asiatic Society in Kolkata. The government of India has initially loaned the statue to Bhutan for a year.

India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also is fortunate to find a friend in Bhutan who has shown the way to pursue economic development in cognizance of nature, environment and culture. In short, the Gross National Happiness.

In his address to the youth, the Indian Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for having seen the past, lived the future with visionary leaders of Bhutan and blended with the future in two-days-time.

He was overwhelmed with the gesture that the people of Bhutan has shown in welcoming him and the hospitality the country has extended to make his stay as comfortable despite the limited resource.

Students and residents of Paro and Thimphu, all-delighted, lined the highway greeting the Indian Prime Minister, wearing smiles until the last vehicle of his convoy passed.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his sense of humour, said a lecture on Sunday could be burdening, as he prepared to talk at the RUB hall yesterday.

He left the country in a special aircraft bidding farewell to all the senior officials and minister present at the Paro International Airport.

“Let alone the Prime Minister, who has to return to India, even the officials and media representative do not want to leave this beautiful country for polluted cities,” said an Indian journalist who came to cover the visit.

Meanwhile, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering thanked all the officials, students, teachers and other volunteers for making the visit a successful one.

 

The new course

Irrespective of whichever government comes to power, both in Bhutan and India, the ties between the two countries will never diminish.

This was the underlying message leaders and officials of both the countries have been trying to convey.

Before the inception of first Five Year Plan in 1961 His Majesty The Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck has maintain a cordial relation with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. India fully funded the first Plan (1961–66) comprising of Nu 107.2 million. Bhutan is now on the verge of graduating from the least developed country by the end of 12th Plan.

At a press conference by the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on August 17, he said that India is delighted for the people of Bhutan, who have worked hard to graduate. “We are partners in helping but ultimately it is the achievement of people of Bhutan, the government and the two Kings,” he said adding that India would continue the partnership even if Bhutan comes out of LDC.

Cooperation in the field of hydropower is exemplary. However, the whole focus of the visit is to diversify the bilateral relation into sectors like health, education and technology.

To this effect, the Indian government, besides committing to issue 1,000 MT of LPG every month, has also committed to support the financing of super specialist hospital in Thimphu. Various MoUs have also been exchanged between the educational institutes and agencies of both the countries.

The Indian foreign secretary also added that there are number of areas to enhance economic ties. For instance, the government of India has committed Nu 4B for trade support facility. This, he said would be largely used to help traders, manufacturers and small entrepreneurs of Bhutan to modernise their production to be able to compete in the Indian market.

The Indian government, he said has also extended its currency swap facility from USD 100M to USD 200M, until the SAARC currency swap comes up. A currency swap is an agreement in which two parties exchange the principal amount of a loan and the interest in one currency for the principal and interest in another currency.

From digital payment to disaster management and technology, the Indian Prime Minster said he would like see more such collaboration between Bhutan and India.

During a press conference in the ceremonial lounge at Paro Airport right after the departure of the Indian PM, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering said hydropower is just one of the events that happened in this relationship.

With regard to the ongoing hydropower projects, he said that two governments have committed to bring to all activities to a conclusion as soon as possible. “Both the governments are very positive on Sunkosh project. Experts from both sides are working on it. So we have not discussed anything new. We haven’t taken any new stands on hydropower this time,” Lyonchhen said.

Meanwhile, Lyonchhen thanked all the farmers for not letting loose their cattle on the roads during the visit of the PM.

Tshering Dorji

Find your real calling: PM Modi calls

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:36

Of the several milestone undertakings that commenced during the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s two-day state visit, Bhutanese youth was a major focus of the visit.

Addressing the students of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) yesterday, Prime Minister Modi said, “There is no better time to be young than now.”

Recognising the importance of youth, PM Modi said that the world today offers more opportunities than ever before. “You have the power and potential to do extra-ordinary things, which will impact generations to come,” he said. “Find your real calling and pursue it with full passion.”

Speaking at the RUB convention hall filled with avid minds from across colleges and schools in the country, PM Modi stressed on the role of youth in capitalising on the emerging technologies to help the country develop.

“Today, I stand here among the best and brightest youth of Bhutan,” he said. “His Majesty told me yesterday that he interacts with you regularly and had addressed the last convocation. It is from you all that Bhutan’s future leaders, innovators, business persons, sports persons, artists and scientists will emerge.”

As all tasks would be laden with challenges, he said that the young minds have to find innovative solutions to overcome them. “Let no limitation constrain you.”

Observing the dynamism and the energy radiating from the youth present at the hall, PM Modi said that he was confident that the youth would shape the future of Bhutan and its citizens. “Whether I look at Bhutan’s past, present or future, the common and constant threads are – deep spirituality, and youthful vigour. These are also the strengths of our bilateral relationship.”

PM Modi lauded Bhutan’s efforts to harness the benefits of technology in various sectors and reassured his support to help continue the progress.

He said that going beyond the traditional sector of cooperation, Bhutan and India are seeking to cooperate extensively in new frontiers – from schools to space and digital payments to disaster management. “Our cooperation in all these sectors will have a direct impact on young friends like you.”

In the age of globalisation, PM Modi said that it is crucial to connect scholars and academics beyond borders, to share creativity and talent of students and to bring them at par with the best in the world.

He said, “As Bhutan soars high in these endeavours, your 1.3 billion Indian friends will not only just look on and cheer you with pride and happiness, but also they will partner you, share with you and learn from you.”

PM Modi went on to say that it is the positive relationship between the people of the two countries that has stood the test of time. “India-Bhutan cooperation in hydro-power and energy is exemplary. But the real source of power and energy of this relationship are our people. So, it is people first, and people will always be at the centre of this relationship.”

He added that no other two countries in the world understand each other so well or share so much. And no two countries are such natural partners in bringing prosperity to their people.

“It is natural that the people of Bhutan and India experience great attachment to each other. After all, we are close not just due to our geography. Our history, culture and spiritual traditions have created unique and deep bonds between our peoples and nations.”

Known to the world as one of the happiest countries, PM Modi also commended Bhutan’s developmental concept of Gross National Happiness. “Bhutan has understood the essence of happiness. Bhutan has understood the spirit of harmony, togetherness and compassion. This very spirit radiates from the adorable children who lined the streets to welcome me yesterday. I will always remember their smiles.”

He added that Bhutan’s message to humanity is happiness. “I go back with a lot of happiness and positive energy from you all.”

Younten Tshedup

India assures support to Bhutan’s five-year Plans

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:34

The two-day state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country not only reinforced the strong and unique relationship but also India’s continued support to Bhutan’s development aspirations.

As one of the closest friends and recipient of support, Bhutan assured India her unwavering support to the nation’s leadership role in the regional as well as global affairs.

In his press statement in Simtokha Dzong on August 17, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “strong and dynamic leadership”. He said that India’s stature and influence had grown in the international arena and was fast emerging as a global leader.

For India, Bhutan’s support comes at a time when the country is vying for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

“Your leadership has a rare combination of courage, compassion, and calibre. We see you taking bold steps for greater interest of your nation and people. I offer my admiration and sincere appreciation,” Lyonchhen said. He added that politically and economically stable and successful India would translate into a more prosperous region.

Bhutan and India signed nine MoUs in various fields, including education and space technology. 

The visiting prime minister also assured India’s cooperation in Bhutan’s five-year plans.  “It is a privilege for India that we are a major partner in the development of Bhutan,” he said.

At a time when Bhutan is facing the shortage of subsidised LPG, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would increase the supply of subsidised LPG from 700 to 1,000 MT per month. This, he said, would help bring clean fuel to the villages.

One of the main highlights of the visit besides the inauguration of the Mangdechhu project was the inauguration of the earth station of South Asia satellite, which the visiting prime minister said would help accelerate Bhutan’s development with the help of space technology. The RuPay card, which was also launched jointly by the prime ministers of two countries, is expected to further enhance the relationship between the two countries in areas of digital payments, and trade, and tourism.

He also announced that India had agreed to extend the presence of unique statue Zhabdrung (which India loaned to Bhutan) for five more years.

“The history of India-Bhutan relations is as glorious as it has a promising future. I believe that India and Bhutan will remain a unique model of relations between two countries in the world,”  Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

MB Subba

Opposition leader calls on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:33

Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hotel Taj Tashi in Thimphu yesterday.

The two leaders discussed various issues of mutual interest ranging from renewable energy, environmental conservation and tourism to thriving bilateral relations and cooperation between the two nations.

Pema Gyamtsho said that India’s leadership was crucial for the protection and conservation of iconic species like tiger and snow leopard and iconic landscape like the Himalayas. He also emphasised that irrespective of whichever political party came to power in Bhutan, the special relationship with India would always remain the cornerstone of Bhutan’s foreign policy.

He said that Bhutan as a small country challenged by geographical, topographical, and economic limitations, would always like to see that the rules of engagements did not seek equal reciprocity both in scale and scope, and added that India always recognised and appreciated the special needs of Bhutan and requested the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue with this special consideration.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured that India would always remain a true and trusted friend for Bhutan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the opposition party, led by an able and experienced politician like Pema Gyamtsho, augured well for Bhutan’s democracy and invited opposition leader to lead a delegation of parliamentarians to India.

Pema Gyamtsho congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisive electoral victory and for assuming office for his second term.

“India, as the largest democracy needs a farsighted and strong leader like you. Your leadership is good for the region and the world beyond for tackling current challenges such as climate change-induced disasters and depletion of natural resources, among others,” said Pema Gyamtsho.

MB Subba

Exploring new areas of cooperation

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:31

The much-awaited visit of the Indian Prime Minister is over. It was, as expected, a successful visit. Projects were launched or signed, new areas of cooperation were identified. Bhutan and the Bhutanese left a lasting impression on PM Modi.

Besides renewed sense of cooperation and bilateral agreements, there was something Prime Minister Modi left behind. It was not sack loads of Indian Rupees or promises of more aid, but inspiring messages to the Bhutanese youth.

Addressing a packed hall at the Royal University of Bhutan, the Indian PM talked about the opportunities for youth. Like a fatherly figure, he told Bhutanese youth to work hard and take the country to greater heights. It was not a father taunting his son or daughter to work hard, the PM was telling the youth to take opportunities of the shifting paradigm. There is no better time, PM Modi said, to be young than now.

The PM even challenged Bhutanese youth, through his address, broadcast live and watched by thousands of parents at home, to contribute to finding solutions to the problems of the world today. “Yes, we have challenges. But for every challenge, we have young minds to find innovative solutions to overcome them,” he said, urging youth to pursue their calling with full passion.

PM Modi stressing on the importance of youth and their potential echoes the wisdom of our Kings who for long has realised the importance of the youth. For decades, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo has been saying that the destiny of the country lies in the hands of the youth.

His Majesty The King has been stressing on the importance of our youth. In His Majesty’s words, the youth are “our most important citizens.” The potential of the youth, their importance in nation building and the future of the country was highlighted long time ago. In a special message to youth, His Majesty even said that he would not rest until “I have given you (youth) the inspiration, knowledge and skills so that you not only fulfill your own aspirations but be of immense worth to the nation.”

With a growing young population in the country, tapping their potential is heading in the right direction. A take-away from the visit of the Indian PM is that there will be more areas of cooperation beyond hydropower and trade.

Among the signings at the historic Semtokha dzong on Saturday, a good number were in the fields of learning. Four were particularly on enhancement of academic exchanges and STEM subjects between the RUB and renowned institutions in India.

The visit also signals the beginning of cooperation beyond the traditional sectors of cooperation. The new frontiers includes  schools to research and even space science that is gaining momentum at home which will have direct impact on the young.

For many observers who were keen on sound bites on Doklam or Bhutan-India relation vis a vis China, there was not much. But for many Bhutanese, PM Modi recognising the importance of connecting scholars and academics, to share creativity and talent of students, and to bring them at par with the best in the world, is reassuring.

MHPA team celebrates inauguration of project

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:30

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering inaugurated the 720 megawatt (MW) Mangdechu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA) in Semtokha dzong, residents of Trongsa and MHPA staff watched it live in the powerhouse.

Residents of Drakteng and Langthel gewog, the business community and civil servants of the dzongkhag, staff of MHPA and local leaders from Bumthang and Zhemgang watched the live inauguration of the project on screen in the powerhouse on August 17.

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Tsirang-Wangdue highway opens to traffic

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:29

With about 600 meters of an alternate road constructed between Zawakha and Kamichu, the Tsirang-Wangdue highway has opened to traffic since the evening of August 16.

The road remained closed to traffic for almost 10 days after a flash flood from Phangdurongchu in Jarigang created an artificial lake in Punatsangchhu and submerged the road on the night of August 6.

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