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དུས་མཐུན་བཟོ་ཡོད: 26 min 21 sec གི་ཧེ་མ།

Beware of fake ‘Karma modelling agency’

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:46

Phub Dem

With many cases of scams on the Internet and social media targeting vulnerable groups, many Bhutanese are falling victim to online scams and cyberbullying, according to the Department of Law and Order (DLO).

According to the public advisory DLO issued, such scams include offers of jobs with attractive pay packages by individuals or companies whose credentials and motives are questionable.

The notification stated that many individuals or companies portray themselves as being legitimate and authentic. “A few innocent Bhutanese have already fallen victim to such scams.”

The growing incidences of such scams, as per DLO, were a matter of serious concern because people lose money and become vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation.

One such incidence is the recent fake modelling scam.

It was found that a fake agreement between a questionable Karma Modelling Agency, India, and the government was signed to recruit models.

The economic affairs ministry on November 9 issued an urgent notification to alert people of the fake modelling agency.

As per the notification, the questionable agency through social media was contacting young girls.

The notification clarified that the government has not signed any such agreement and it was a complete scam to lure innocent girls for exploitation.

The ministry also urged the people to contact relevant government agencies to report such scams. “The Office of Consumer Protection stands ready to assist the public if contacted to authenticate such claims,” the notification stated.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said it was found that a lady named Radhima was contacting Bhutanese girls online about modelling.

He said that a thorough investigation and strict action would be taken because such action falls under forgery and unfair practice. “I have asked my office to alert and notify the public through BBS television and radio.”

Lyonpo also advised people to exercise extreme caution and avoid responding to unsolicited emails and messages on social media.

Dagaps ready for the first farm festival

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:45

Rinchen Zangmo  | Dagapela

Stalls are constructed at the Dagapela Middle Secondary School’s football ground in Dagana, as people from the gewogs prepare for the first farm festival.

The two-day festival, which began today, was organised coinciding with the 64th birth anniversary of the fourth Druk Gyalpo. It is expected to boost the socio-economic development in Dagana and improve the livelihood of people.

Dagana dzongkhag’s economic development officer, Tshering Ngedup, said that varieties of farm products and forestry products from gewogs would be showcased.

He said that Dagapela was chosen as the venue, as it was centrally located.

“Dagapela is identified as a commercial hub although it is under process. Next year, the festival would be conducted in a different venue.”

There are more than 25 stalls, a stall each from 14 gewogs to showcase farm products. There is also food stalls and games section for the people during the festival.

The festival, he said, would not only focus on the commercial aspect but also be about bringing people together.

There would be cultural dance programmes, lucky draws, and aerobics among others.

Tshering Ngedup said that health screening would also be conducted. “Coordinators would also make use of the crowd and entertainment programmes to create awareness about domestic violence, teenage pregnancy and social issues among others.”

A farmer participating at the festival, Dorji, said he had been gathering agriculture and dairy products for a while now. “I am looking forward to it, as it could help us earn extra income.”

The festival would be an annual event.

Zhemgang comes to life with the revival of bird festival 

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:45

Younten Tshedup  | Tingtibi

The usually quiet town of Tingtibi in Zhemgang is abuzz.

The feathered friends, which are found in abundance in this locality, is the reason for bringing this town to life.

Three years after it was first introduced, the Bhutan Bird Festival (BBF) is here again in all its glory and might. The event is organised to commemorate the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

A dzongkhag that has managed to cohabit harmoniously with nature so far has a spectacle of events on indigenous food, drinks, sports and adventure among others, planned over the next three days.

As a build-up to the main event, birdathon, a birding expedition began three days ago where more than 30 national birders are engaged in sighting the bird species found in the area.

Zhemgang dzongkhag is home to more than 500 species of birds and the festival is being held at Tingtibi, which is an area much sought after by bird watchers from across the world.

All Set: Zhemgang is ready to host the three-day festival


The place is also home to the critically endangered white-bellied heron and houses all the four species of hornbill – Great Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill and the Pied Hornbill. Beautiful Nuthatch is also occasionally sighted in the upper regions of the dzongkhag.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will grace the main event today.

Some of the events include an 85kms cycling race from Tingtibi, display of various indigenous food stalls, a river rafting session organised by the river guides of Panbang along Mangdechhu (from Berti to Tingtibi).

Member secretary with BBF, Thinley Jamtsho, who is the dzongkhag’s planning officer, said that the event is organised to pay tribute to His Majesty The Fourth King for His Majesty’s visionary leadership to conservation in Bhutan.

“The event is also to promote community-based ecotourism and to provide opportunities for the local people to participate in the festival and enhance their income,” he said.

Thinley Jamtsho said that bird watching and rafting are the two unique tourist attractions in the dzongkhag and the event was an opportunity to showcase it.

Zhemgang dzongrab, Kinzang Dorjee, said that given the rich flora and fauna found in the dzongkhag, the event is organised to boost eco-tourism in the dzongkhag.

“It is also an opportunity for the people of Tingtibi to generate income as most of the time the town remains deserted without any activities,” he said. “We are also targeting to attract domestic tourists through the display of various local cuisines and at the same time provide them with an opportunity to explore the rich wilderness of Zhemgang.”

Meanwhile, a participant, Karma Dema from Bobsel in Goshing gewog is excited to let the Prime Minister taste her local yams. “It is a delicacy we savour. I want Lyonchhen to taste what we have been eating for generations.”

She said that the festival is an opportunity for the locals to show the rest of the country and also some of the international guests about their age-old traditions and culture.

A resident, Kinzang, said that it is rare to have several dignitaries visit the area and it provided them with an opportunity to show their hospitality. “It is a different and pleasing experience to have so many new faces walk the streets that remain empty all most all the time.”

Education flagship programme to digitalise schools: PM

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:43

Yangchen C Rinzin

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has directed the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) to come up with an idea on how to implement the education flagship programme.

He said that he had approved the education flagship, which would focus on digitalising schools a few weeks ago. “If successful, the flagship will make all the schools in Bhutan have adequate IT laboratory.”

Lyonchhen said that he asked DITT director to identify three IT officers from the education ministry, DITT and any other ministry to work on it. “They would be submitting their work soon.”

Education flagship is one of the 12 identified flagships included in the 12th Plan, which would receive the government’s focus and prompt initiatives.

Lyonchhen said that it would complement the Digital Drukyul programme, which the government is also working on.

He said that the government, through this flagship, would ensure that the students are engaged with ICT from pre-primary and grow with IT standards to make them IT literate. “It’s a bold step and it’s going to cost us more but it’ll be the best investment since this would benefit STEM subjects. We’re yet to finalise but we’re definitely looking into starting from pre-primary if possible, including teaching same IT syllabus.”

The plan also includes implementing it phase-wise from primary schools. The students would have access to all the information in the world and make use of the resources available.

Prime Minister said that Nu one billion has been allocated and it would also look into building digital capacity of teachers.

“Those who can afford are sending their children outside but 80 percent students in the dzongkhags don’t even know the difference between desktop and laptop,” he said. “We lack relevance of education and today people are concerned only on the literacy rate.”

Meanwhile, the annual education statistic 2019 report stated that 253 public and 279 private schools have computers. This, the report claimed, has increased over the years, which is an increase of 48 computers in public schools compared to 2018 and an increase of 46 in private schools.

However, in terms of student-computer ratio, on an average 23 students share one computer in public schools, while 16 students share a computer in private schools.

The education ministry has targeted to achieve a student-computer ratio of 1:10 for secondary schools and 1:30 for primary schools.

While the ministry aims to enhance I-Sherig in the schools, the report found that more than 35 percent of both the public and private schools (5.3%) in the country do not have Internet connectivity.

Prayer ceremony for His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s birthday

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:43

Staff reporter

The Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan (GNHCB) will organise a day-long prayer ceremony in commemoration of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s birth anniversary and the fourth national day of happiness at the National Memorial Choeten in Thimphu today.

The programme will include a collective offering of prayers and lighting of butter lamps led by the venerable Tshokey Lopon Dorji Rinchen for the long life, happiness, wellbeing of His Majesty.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck will grace the event as the chief guest with members of the royal family and other dignitaries.

The butter lamp offering is considered the purest gift one could offer in Buddhism and Bhutanese spiritual practice.

Building a skillful nation

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:43

More than a decade ago, a German-made printing machine broke down in Thimphu. So an engineer was flown in to do the repairs. He tried and left.

Next day, a local mechanic removed some parts, hammered it all night and the press came to life in the morning.

The mechanic was a graduate from the erstwhile Don Bosco Technical Institute in Kharbandi and still runs an automobile workshop in town.

The point is the graduates from the institute then were no less than an engineer from a reputed college elsewhere. Sadly, we can only talk and be proud of the past, today.

Much was talked about by the successive governments, TVET neither appealed to those who needed skills nor the industry who employed the graduates. Large ornate buildings were built for the institutes but inside trainees worked on 1980-model machines that have gone extinct in the market. That is how pathetic our TVET programme is!

The government is embarking on an ambitious plan to revamp the programme, albeit belatedly. National TVET Council, the umbrella organisation for the institutes will be formed next month.

TVET was given less than 1.5 percent of the overall Plan outlay in the past three Plans. The programme is allocated 1.8 percent of the outlay or Nu 2.1 billion in the 12th Plan.

The biggest hurdle to develop the sector has been money. While we borrowed much for programmes that came and left with nothing to show, we did not have the heart to borrow to rightly skill our youth. So if need be, we must borrow. Given that Bhutan graduates out of the least developed country category in the next few years, the time is also right.

The huge hydropower debt may be self-liquidating but debt for TVET would generate returns far more than hydropower, for generations.

The funding mechanism of institutes has to change too. The government can do only so much. They could open their own workshops for mechanical, electrical, masonry, and carpentry. Trainees in the final year have to build quality products that institutes could market at premium prices.

TVET programme’s constraints in access, relevance, and quality of skills have increasingly hindered delivering quality workmanship. So make instructors upgrade their knowledge, teach the most advanced curricula there is in the world, and our trainees compete in international innovation contests. Let them learn the technological skills of the global future.

Make the programme dynamic so that it keeps up with the economic transformation and changing labour market requirements.

Ultimately, the quality of TVET determines the overall quality of engineering and technological standard of a nation.

Tsirang tries growing Bhutanese chilli

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:42

Rinchen Zangmo  | Tsirang

The popular variety of chilli cultivated in Trashiyangtse and other parts of the country will now be grown in about four gewogs at Tsirang.

Nurseries have been raised this month in Semjong, Sergithang, Gosarling and Rangthangling gewogs of the dzongkhag. Tsirang farmers have been cultivating local chilli varieties in winter for many years now. However, the Bhutanese chili will be tried for the first time this winter.

Chilli transplantation would most likely be in January. Agriculture officials said that the four gewogs were identified based on the altitude of the place. Within 40 days, the nursery should be ready for transplantation.

District’s agriculture officer, Dorji Gyeltshen said that growing the chili could substitute import.  “As we focus on growing banned vegetables such as cauliflowers, beans and chillies, growing different varieties would  give farmers more options.” He said that the introduction of such a variety if successful could uplift the livelihood of the farmers.

The dzongkhag has become a major supplier of winter vegetables over the years.

A farmer from Dzomlingthang village, Chenga sells vegetables for a living. He cultivates mostly beans, cauliflowers and potatoes. The 52-year-old is among the farmers trying out the Bhutanese chili this winter.

He said that chillies from Trashiyangtse was most popular. “We’re hoping that the trial is a success here as the market seems to be good.”

Agriculture extension officers said that the dzongkhag distributed seeds and plastic for mulching to farmers interested to grow chillies.

Another farmer Human Doj said that the vegetable grown in winter is more profitable. “Cultivating vegetables in summer is hampered by shortage of water as we depend on rain.”

Winter vegetables fetch better price in the market, he said.

“I plan to first grow chillies in about 50 decimal. We also work on paddy cultivation but the focus has now shifted to vegetables.”


Langthel residents to have new crematorium by next year

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:41

Nim Dorji  | Trongsa

Langthel gewog crematorium, which was constructed since last year, is expected to be completed by next year.

The gewog has allocated budget to complete all the basic infrastructure this financial year.

Langthel gup Sonam Dhendup said that since the main structure is completed, people could use it in case of an emergency.

He said that it was not used until now, as they believe that the first cremation should be that of a noble person.

It was learnt that people wanted separate crematorium in respective chiwogs but due to budget constraints, the gewog constructed the crematorium for the entire gewog near the new Raphey-Koshela bypass.

Gewog officials say the current location was chosen, it was convenient for residents of most chiwogs since it is near the road and also easily accessible to the river to dispose of the ashes.

Meanwhile, there are three crematoriums in Langthel area including the newly constructed one.

A crematorium, which was constructed at the cost of Nu 1.7 million in the past, was left unused.

Residents claim that people don’t take the dead body there since the crematorium was constructed below the valley.

A villager said that they have to take the body below their village to the crematorium, which they consider inauspicious. “We take the body either to the crematorium at Dorji Goenpa or use the one at Dangdung,”

Bhutan wins silver in World Bodybuilding Championship 

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:40

Thinley Namgay

Tandin Wangchen, 42, from Paro won the silver medal in the men’s athletic physique above 183cm category at the 11th World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships held in Jeju Island, South Korea yesterday. 

More than 40 countries participated in the competition. He is the lone Bhutanese participant who took part in the championship. Four countries competed in his category. Thailand took the gold whereas Uzbekistan and India came in third and fourth place respectively.

Tandin Wangchen said he dropped everything and prepared for four months for this competition.

He worked hard and hoped for the gold medal in the Asian and World Championships but said was happy with the silver. “World Championship is like the Olympics for a bodybuilder and I’m glad that I stepped on world championship stage with silver medal and it’s a wonderful experience,” he said.

Tandin Wangchen also secured fifth position in the Masters category (40-50 years) at the 53rd Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship held at Pacific Palace Hotel, Batam, Indonesia from September 27 to October 3 this year.

He went to the World Bodybuilding Championship two times and Asian Bodybuilding Championship five times. He is a three-time Mr Bhutan title winner.

“If someone can pursue body building and take part in the competition, that person can easily face other adversities in life. For bodybuilding, we need extreme diet and training with consistency,” said Tandin Wangchen adding that financial and moral support from family is essential.

Given the growing popularity of the sport in the country, he said the youth should work hard. He hope to see lots of athletes from the country to win the world championship, Asian championship and even Olympics in future.

Tandin Wangchen and the two officials will return home on November 15 where he hopes to find some form of welcome and recognition. 


Macroeconomic indicators reveal signs of slowdown

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:39

Tshering Dorji

While the government’s achievements of  one year in office are centred around building the foundation for the coming years, macroeconomic indicators show signs of a slowdown.

Since November last year when the government took office, until last month, about 12 treasury bills (T-bills) were auctioned amounting to more than Nu 45B. In 2018 alone, the government floated about 13 T-bills amounting to around Nu 30B. In 2017, more than 20 T-bills were issued. However, the amount was less than Nu 20B.

The T-bills are short-term government debt with a maturity of maximum of 90 days. It is usually floated to keep government’s cash flow afloat or when there is a shortage in government’s cash flow. For instance, if the government requires Nu 100M to fund a project committed by a developing partner but it is yet to receive the actual money, It will auction T-bills, where the local investor, particularly the financial institutions would bid based on the coupon rate, which is the interest rate. The government will refund money when the donor fund is released and pays an interest on it, usually around one to two percent.

This means that the government cash flow has struggled to remain afloat because of the transition between pervious and current Plan. Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said there were no capital budget for about five months, since there was time lapse in implementation of the 12th Plan and change in government.

While the rupee reserve increased from Nu 156B in November last year to Nu 176B as of June this year, the country’s external debt saw an increase from USD 2.5B in December 2018 to Nu 2.7B until July this year.

The trade deficit was observed at Nu 30B in 2017-18 fiscal year and its projected to increase by Nu 7B in 2019-19. Likewise the current account deficit has widened by almost Nu 10B in the same period.

Foreign direct investment saw an marginal increase but in terms of number it has not increased. Remittances on the other hand has slowed down. In 2018, the economy saw an inward remittances worth Nu 3B, which stands at Nu 1.5B in the first seven months of 2019. 

All these figures are according to the statistical bulletin of the Royal Monetary Authority. 

The country’s ranking on ease of doing business has also slipped by nine places in 2018. 

Government’s stand

Acknowledging the fact that some of the macroeconomic indicators are not progressive, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that it wouldn’t be fair if the government dissociates itself from these figures. “Any party in power will be blamed for the slowdown of the economy,” he said. “But saying that this government is not doing enough on the economic front may not be true.”

The ease of doing business, he said is based on assessments of the past, when the party was not even in power.

Certain facts such as the strong correlation of the Bhutanese economy with that of the Indian, he said are beyond the control of any government. “I have already talked with the economists from economic affairs and finance ministries and the RMA, and they too said there is nothing much the country can do,” he said. “But we will sit together and study the issue.”

At a time when growth in India is slow, Lyonchhen said Bhutan can only hope for it pick up. “But we must understand that neither a speedy growth nor a slowdown in India is good of us.”

“It is not because of the lack of intelligence on the government’s part,” he added. For instance, he said the GST has affected the small export segment of the country. Because GST is designed to boost Indian export and limit import towards India, he said the impact is unavoidable. 

While a private sector development committee has been instituted, Lyonchhen said that he is yet to receive their recommendations. “Future is not very clean for a small economy that is competing with industries across the border,” Lyonchhen said. “There is no magic bullet.”

However, he said the country must promote private sector at domestic level, not just for  export but most importantly, substitute imports. This, he said will be helpful for the economy to dodge the external shocks.

Lyonchhen also said that private sector, particularly most manufacturing sector in the country are dependent on the incentives. “The moment incentives are withdrawn, they will blame the government,” he said adding that innovation in the private sector is lacking. “In essence, the profit they make is the incentives provided by the government.”

One of the priority of the government, currently is to bring about tax reform. Lyonchhen said that the new taxation has three components- direct, indirect and property taxes. After four round of discussions, the Prime Minister said that government is hoping to present the tax Bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

“There is a good component of narrowing the gap in the tax reforms,” he said. However, he said the details cannot be revealed since its under discussion and that it would be unethical to do so.

Meanwhile the GDP growth projections are on the positive side, which is attributed to commissioning of Mangdechhu Project.

Zhabten for the 4th Druk Gyalpo

མིག, 11/11/2019 - 15:39

Zhabten, literally stable feet, is a prayer made for the long life of an important person. Like tenzhug, it is a request normally made to enlightened figure to remain long in the world to benefit sentient beings and prayers to powerful deities to elongate the life of such a figure. The zhabten verses are often composed by a senior spiritual figure who is supposed to have obtained the power of speech to make words turn into reality. The following is a zhabten composed by the current Je Khenpo for the long life of His Majesty, the 4th Druk Gyalpo.

༄༅། །འབྲུག་གི་ཆོས་རྒྱལ་དཔལ་འཇིགས་མེད་སེངྒེ་དབང་ཕྱུག་མཆོག་གི་བརྟན་བཞུགས། 

A Prayer for Long Life of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Excellent Dharma King of Bhutan

ཨོཾ་སྭསྟི། ངོ་བོ་ཀ་དག་ཆོས་སྐུ་འོད་དཔག་མེད། 

།རང་བཞིན་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་ལོངས་སྐུ་སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། །


།སྐུ་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་བས་དེང་འདིར་ཤིས་པ་སྩོལ། །

May the Virtuous Prevail!

Amitabha, the dharma body which is primordially pure in its essence,

Avalokiteśvara, the enjoyment body which is by nature spontaneously accomplished,

Padmasambhava, the emanation body of all-pervading compassion,

May the Buddhas of the three bodies shower auspiciousness here and now.


།ཁ་བ་ཅན་དུ་སྲོང་བཙན་སྒམ་པོའི་ཞབས། །

ཞིང་འདིར་དཔལ་ལྡན་འབྲུག་པ་བདུད་འཇོམས་རྗེ། །སྙིང་ནས་དྲན་ནོ་བྱང་ཆུབ་བར་དུ་སྐྱོངས། །

Pundarika, the noble monarch in Shambala,

Exalted Songtsen Gampo in the Land of Snows,

The glorious Drukpa lord Dudjom (Zhabdrung) in this realm,

We think of you in our hearts; protect us until we reach enlightenment.

གང་གི་གསང་གསུམ་སྒྱུ་འཕྲུལ་བསམ་ཡས་ཀྱང་། །ལྗོངས་འདིའི་འགྲོ་ལ་རྗེས་སུ་ཆགས་པའི་དཔྱིད། །

སླར་ཡང་འོ་མའི་གྲོང་གི་ཤར་རིའི་རྩེར། །གཟུགས་སྐུའི་ཉིན་བྱེད་འཆར་འདི་ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། །

Although the miraculous works of your body, speech and mind are inconceiveable,

How wondrous that, like the sun on the eastern horizon,

The best of your affection for beings of this land

Has again taken a physical form in Womdrong.

དེས་ན་འཇིགས་མེད་བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་རབ་འཆང་ཞིང་། །མི་ཡི་སེངྒེ་རྣམ་རོལ་ས་ཡི་ལྷ། །

དབང་ཕྱུག་ཆེན་པོའི་དཔལ་གྱིས་མཛེས་བཞིན་དུ། །རྡོ་རྗེ་ཁྲི་ལ་བསྐལ་བརྒྱར་ཞབས་བརྟན་ཤོག །

Thus, keeping a fearless (Jigme) forbearing figure,

May the lion (Senge) of men, the lord of earth,

Decorated by the excellence of great power and wealth (Wangchuck)

Remain firm on the adamantine throne for a hundred aoens. 

ལུགས་གཉིས་ཁྲིམས་ཀྱི་སྣང་བ་ཆེས་འབར་བས། །མི་མཐུན་རྒུད་པའི་སྨག་རུམ་ཀུན་བསལ་ནས། །

བདེ་སྐྱིད་རྫོགས་ལྡན་གསར་པའི་དགའ་སྟོན་ལ། །རང་དབང་སྤྱོད་པའི་དུས་ལས་ཡོལ་མེད་ཤོག །

Having the darkness of oppugnant misfortunes cleared

By the blazing light of the laws of the dual system,

May the time in which we freely enjoy the feast

Of complete peace and happiness never pass. 

དཔལ་ལྡན་འབྲུག་པའི་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྣམ་བཞི་ཡིས། །བསྐྱངས་པའི་སྨན་ལྗོངས་འབྲུག་གི་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་འདིར། །

དཔལ་ལྡན་འབྲུག་པའི་ཆབ་སྲིད་དགུང་དུ་ཕྱུར། །གྲགས་པའི་དབྱངས་སྙན་འབྲུག་ལྟར་སྒྲོག་པར་ཤོག །

In this Dragon country, the Land of Medicinal Herbs,

Maintained by the four activities of the glorious Drukpa,

May the rule of glorious Drukpa rise to the zenith

And the melodies of its renown resound like thunder.

བདག་སོགས་རྗེ་བློན་འབངས་འཁོར་བཅས་པ་རྣམས། །སྐྱེ་བ་འདི་དང་ཚེ་རབས་གཞན་དག་ཏུ། །

ལས་སྨོན་བཟང་པོས་གཅིག་ཏུ་འབྲེལ་བ་ཡིས། །རྔ་ཡབ་དཔལ་རིའི་ཞིང་དུ་བགྲོད་པར་ཤོག །

Through being connected by noble aspirations and actions

In this life and in all other lifetimes,

May all of us, the monarch, ministers and subjects

Reach the realm of Excellent Mountain in Ngayab.

རྩ་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་བ་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་། །ཆོས་ཅན་ཆོས་ཉིད་ཟབ་མོའི་བདེན་པའི་སྟོབས། །

བདག་ཅག་ལྷག་བསམ་རྣམ་པར་དག་པའི་མཐུས། །ཇི་ལྟར་སྨོན་པ་དེ་བཞིན་འགྲུབ་པར་ཤོག །

By the blessings of the ocean of Buddhas and Three Roots

By the power of the profound ultimate and conventional truths

By force of our pure and noble motivation

May these prayers come true as we wish.

ཅེས་ཚིགས་བཅད་བཀྲ་ཤིས་རྟགས་ཀྱི་གྲངས་ལྡན་འདི་ཡང་མི་དབང་འཇིགས་མེད་སེངྒེ་མཆོག་ལ་སྔར་ནས་སར་གནས་སེམས་དཔའ་ཞིག་གི་སྤྲུལ་པ་ཡིན་པའི་འདུ་ཤེས་ཡོད་པའི་ཁར་ ད་ཆར་རྒྱལ་སྲས་བསྟན་འཛིན་རབ་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་འཇིགས་མེད་བསྟན་འཛིན་དབང་པོས་ དེ་ཉིད་སྔོན་གནས་རྗེས་དྲན་གསུང་གིས་མཐུ་ཆེན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོའི་རྣམ་རོལ་དུ་གསལ་བར་སྟོན་པ་མ་ཟད། དེ་ལྟར་ངེས་པའི་རྒྱུ་མཚན་གཞན་ཡང་མང་དུ་མཐོང་བའི་རྒྱུ་རྐྱེན་ཚོགས་པ་ལ་བརྟེན་ནས་ལྷོ་ནང་སྐྱེ་འགྲོའི་བདེ་སྐྱིད་གོང་དུ་འཕེལ་བའི་རྟེན་འབྱུང་དུ་དམིགས་ཏེ། གང་གི་ཐུགས་རྗེའི་འོག་ཏུ་འཚོ་བའི་འབྲུག་ཆོས་སྲིད་མངའ་སྡེ་ཡོངས་ཀྱི་མགྲིན་ཚབ་ཏུ་མཁན་རབས་བདུན་ཅུ་པའི་མིང་ཙམ་འཛིན་པ་འཇིགས་མེད་ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པས་གནམ་ལོ་ས་ཡོས་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་ཟླ་བ་དང་པ་ཡར་ཚེས་བཅོ་ལྔའི་ཉིན་སྤུངས་ཐང་བདེ་ཆེན་ཕོ་བྲང་དུ་སྙིང་ནས་སྨོན་པ་དགེ་ལེགས་སུ་གྱུར་ཅིག ། །།

These verses, commensurate with eight auspicious signs, are composed by me, Jigme Chokyi Dragpa, the one who holds the mere title of the 70th Je Khenpo. Since a long time, I have considered His Majesty Jigme Singye to be an incarnation of an extraordinary being on a spiritual stage. Recently through his recollection of past lifetimes, Jigme Tenzin Wangpo, the reincarnation of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye has clearly indicated that His Majesty is an emanation of the great magician and dharma king (Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal). There are also many other evidences pointing to this. Thus, as an auspicious token of enhancing the peace and wellbeing of all beings in the southern land (Bhutan), this heartfelt prayer was made at Pungthang Dechen Phodrang on the 15th day of the first month of Earth Hare Year, on behalf of the entire nation with religious and secular groups which prospers under his compassionate care.

Focus point

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:07

No happy news for members of Happy Chips cooperative

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:06

Tashi Dema

A small village at the border of Gasa and Punakha came into the limelight in 2013 when it became a part of a cooperative, Happy Green Cooperatives (HGC).

It became a subject for talks the chairperson of HGC, delivered to many Bhutanese on entrepreneurship in farming.

The farming community of 18 households, not only became members of the cooperative, Happy Chips, but according to the HGC’s website, (www.home.happy.bt) it also owned and controlled the cooperative and supplied raw materials.

The cooperative in Drakchukha chiwog of Goenshari gewog in Punakha is registered under the agriculture ministry to be regulated by the Cooperative Act of Bhutan until 2020.  

Happy Chips business, according to its website was established to support the farming community by adding value to agricultural products and generate a stable market for the farmers.

Six years on, Happy Chips is surviving, but farmers no longer own it or are members.

HGC sold Happy Chips to another private agricultural business, Nob Bhutan for Nu 10.9 million (M) in November 2016 after a yearlong business negotiations.

Sources, meanwhile, have alleged the chairperson of HGC, Sangay Rinchen, popularly known as Farmer Sangay of conning the farmers of Drakchukha by pocketing the money earned through the sale of the cooperative and not sharing the profit with farmers.

A source alleged that HGC website, which is up and running, misleads people to believe that the cooperative is still operational and it also solicits donations and support from home and abroad.

“Happy Chips was out of the market for a while and it is back only through the new venture and not as HGC,” the source said.

HGC’s website stated that after two years of intensive development, Happy Chips conducted a successful test-launch in the Bhutanese market and joined Nob Bhutan in September 2015. “After transferring Happy Chips assets to Nob Bhutan, HGC is now a major local shareholder of Nob Bhutan. The cooperative is furthermore is in charge of the raw-material sourcing.”

The source claimed that HGC is not a shareholder of Nob Bhutan and farmers should know that. “The website mentioned that the cooperative intends to make their actions and decisions transparent, but the people in the locality don’t know anything.”

Another source, well aware of the issue, blamed the agriculture ministry for failing to monitor.

The source cited Article 5 of the Cooperative (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2009 that mandates the ministry to implement the Act and discharge the regulatory powers and responsibilities. The Act also requires all registered cooperatives to submit annual report including audited financial statements and monitoring and evaluating cooperatives to ensure that they abide with and sanction those that have violated the Act, cooperative’s bylaws, policies and rules of the ministry.

“There was no monitoring and evaluating, which provided rooms for people to con farmers,” the source said.

The source said that there were external borrowings involved in the cooperative without the knowledge of members, which also violated the Cooperative Act.

Agriculture ministry’s Department of Agricultural and Marketing Cooperatives officials said the case is open and the issue is not resolved.

The deputy chief marketing officer, Thinley Wangchuk, said they asked the dzongkhag planning officer, who is the dzongkhag cooperative registrar, to investigate and submit a report. “We have not received the report.”

However, Kuensel found out that the then dzongkhag planning officer had submitted an investigation report on August 6, 2018 with details of how the villagers were informed about the sale of Happy Chips. It reported that farmers were not given any shares.

In a document Kuensel availed, the then Punakha dzongkhag cooperative registrar wrote that half of the payment from Nob Bhutan was made to cover loans from external borrowings, which would require, as per Article 18 (4) of the Cooperative Act of Bhutan, approval by a majority of the cooperative members and prior approval from the finance ministry for external commercial borrowings.

The investigation report also asked DAMC to talk to the chairperson and not to the beneficiaries about the sale of the cooperative.

Thinley Wangchuk explained that once registered as a cooperative, there should be business plan and bylaws and members should know it as per the National Cooperative Development Board of the Cooperative Act.

He said that there is no board as of now and the Act itself is under amendment. “Once amended, it would resolve a lot of these issues.”

The deputy chief marketing officer acknowledged that HGC did not submit any annual report with an updated list of members once it renewed its registration.

Drakchukha villagers said Farmer Sangay told them that he sold off Happy Chips, as he could not handle the cooperative, but nothing about the money earned from the sale of the cooperative. Drakchukha villagers have not complained. Farmer Sangay hails from the same village.

Farmer Sangay

Farmer Sangay said he sold Happy Chips, but did not pocket any money, as he used it to pay salaries for the youth members, who formed farming, piggery and other groups after the sale of the cooperative.

He said he did not pay money to the farmers, as they did not make any contribution while the cooperative was formed. “Drakchukha farmers were just secondary members. The primary members were the 19 youth working for the cooperative.”

He also said he did not receive the full payment, as lots of negotiations happened.

Sangay Rinchen said he was criticised for conning farmers in social media, but it was not from the members. “The cooperative exists in principle but the youth members are doing different things,” he said.

He said he worked in DAMC before resigning to form HGC and since cooperative was new in Bhutan, there were lots of issues. “There are two types of cooperatives – RNR and youth cooperative – and mine was a youth cooperative, where we also had entertainment component.”

Curbing corruption, a long journey ahead

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:06

Chimi Dema 

Abuse of function, embezzlement, and bribery were the top three corruption offences in the country today.

Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) officials at a sensitisation workshop on National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Strategy (NIACS) 2019-2023 yesterday attributed these problems to weak systems, poor professionalism, and lack of ethics and integrity.

ACC’s Prevention and Education director Karma Thinlay said that there is a lot to do to prevent corruption at the national level.

Given the complex phenomenon of corruption, he said that it can be prevented only through a collective effort and by strengthening integrity culture in the functions in organisations.

“In order to promote an individual behaviour that is consistent with the values and principles of the organisation, the organisation should ensure institutionalization of integrity measures in the form of organisational integrity plan (OIP),” the ACC official said.

OIP is an activity-based strategic plan to guide the leaders and organizations with time bound activities on ethics and integrity management.

The workshop was to ensure a common understanding and promote strong alliance among various organisations and stakeholders, leading to active coordination and cooperation in implementing NIACS in the current Plan.

The strategic objectives of NIACS were aligned to the 12th Plan result areas and performance indicators to reduce corruption.

Strengthening transparent, accountable and integrity culture, enhancing integrity consciousness and enhancing credibility and effectiveness of law enforcement and regulatory agencies were the three main strategic objectives of the NIACS.

To safeguard firms and individuals from engaging in fraud, corruption and unethical behaviour in public procurement, the participants were also sensitised on the Debarment Rules developed by the ACC.

“The rule which came into effect in July this year promotes government’s interest and the need to do business only with responsible entities or individuals,” another ACC official said.

“It also promotes integrity in the contractual works, primarily in construction and supply of goods and services for clean procurement.”

The ACC has sensitised to about 1,000 representatives from more than 140 agencies on the NIACS as of yesterday.

The next session will be held in Bumthang from today until November 13.

According to the ACC’s annual report last year, abuse of functions constituted 182 complaints, about 54.7 percent in the past years. While allegations on embezzlement was also substantial with 23 complaints, representing 6.9 percent followed by seven complaints pertaining to bribery.

Going by the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2018, Bhutan had moved to the 25th place, a notch up from the 26th place in the previous year, indicating a triumph in fighting against corruption at the international level.

TVET to become autonomous by next year

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:05

Yangchen C Rinzin 

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will be delinked from labour ministry and granted autonomy through a National TVET Council.

The decision, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said, is an attempt to develop and revamp the image of TVET in the country.

If everything goes as per the government’s plan, TVET would become autonomous by 2020 and the plan would be rolled out. This means the current eight public TVET institutes will operate under the National TVET Council.

The entry level into the TVET institutes would be upgraded to class XII instead of class X.

The government through an executive order would establish an interim office by next month to continue work on setting up the National TVET Council.

The interim office, which will function for two years, will have staff on secondment including the acting president and three acting directors appointed by the government. The office would have an operation budget of Nu 30 million.

With this, the department of technical education and department of occupational standards will be also delinked from the labour ministry and their transition plan would be completed by June next year.

The TVET council will directly report to prime minister for the first three years.

Two expert groups were created to work on the framework and curriculum to establish if the institutions could function together under an independent organisation. Then TVET governance and institutional mechanism draft report was prepared. According to the draft, National TVET Council would govern the provision of all aspects of TVET in Bhutan.

The Council would provide and conduct high quality industry-relevant TVET to the persons employed or seeking to be employed. It would also administer and manage its financial, administrative, human resources, and academic affairs, among others.

It would also administer and manage all public TVET institutes including establishment of new or discontinuation of existing institutes.

A draft Royal Charter for TVET council has also been prepared.

According to the draft curriculum framework, the reformed TVET would provide courses at certificate, diploma and advanced diploma levels. For the first time, TVET graduates would also have an opportunity to go to degree level, master or doctorate.

The draft also recommends 69 courses under 11 different priority sectors and each institute would have a minimum of 10 courses. The courses would begin from 2022.

The priority sectors include computing and ICT, creative arts and design, business and services, fitness, beauty and wellness, media and communication, construction, mechanical, and electrical and electronics among others. The courses would start phase-wise.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that this is the government’s attempt to transform TVET and cater to the skills needs of the 21st Century.

Announcing its decision of making TVET institutes autonomous on November 7, Lyonchhen said that the reform would produce youth as work ready, world ready and future ready.

Lyonchhen told Kuensel that through such reform, it would create good platform and career path to address unemployment in a most professional way.

“That is why solving unemployment is not about how many number of jobs we’ve created. We’re also targeting the relevance of our education by trying to match job skills that our youth possess versus what is required in the market.”

Lyonchhen added that revamping of TVET is also a major step in transforming education.

Much done, more to do: Health Minister 

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:04

Dechen Tshomo

If the first year under the new government was hectic, the health minister Dechen Wangmo said it would only get busier.

While the ministry needed close to Nu 13 billion (B) in the 12th Plan,  it was allocated only Nu 3.5B. It was a year to get the paperwork done and identify the sources of funds for pledges in the health sector.

“But, I am happy that we are able to mobilise resources,” Lyonpo said. The ministry has mobilised at least 70 percent of the required budget.

Lyonpo said the past year has been gratifying with support of health staff, and the developmental partners. The ministry has implemented the sprinkles project, pneumococcal and flu vaccines and some components of the 1,000 golden days.

Starting February this year, the Mother and Child Health clinics screened every child that visit the clinics for a disability. “We have put a hearing aid on a two-month-old baby, without which the child cannot learn to speak,” Lyonpo said. The hearing aid costs around USD 10,000.

“We hope that as our system picks up, we should be able to continue providing services,” she said. “Health will see a major shift in how it does business. We are already seeing the difference.”

Quality of services at the national referral hospital has been improved and in the past year, 12 international plastic and reconstructive surgery camps and 71 national (Eye, ENT, Gynecology) camps were held. The ministry expects to screen and get everyone on board within one year.

Lyonpo said that for health, the approach has always been tackling it holistically. “If we fail at the conception then we fail.”

Lyonpo said if the health services can be made based on the Buddhist wisdom of Kye-gha-Nah-chi dungyel loosely translating into four stages of life.

“The 1,000 golden days would take care of the birth of the child beginning from the time when the mother conceives till the child is two years old,” Lyonpo said.

For the sick, the health ministry has piloted PEN (Package of essential Non-Communicable Diseases) interventions in Punakha and Tsirang, where health workers visit patients in the community at their homes and provide them with health care services.

“We have good findings from these pilots and we are taking the lessons from there. So, now we want to scale it up nationally,” Lyonpo said. She said a team of doctors would go to the communities and provide specialised services giving everyone access to quality health care at minimal cost.

The ministry is revamping the generic programme, which is old-age programme, and giving preferences for elderly people to access health services early.

Instead of patients suffering chronic illnesses visiting health centres to refill their medicines, health workers will visit them and provide the medicines and necessary healthcare services.

“This is the core of what we are trying to do, which is to provide people-centric care,” Lyonpo said, adding that people are also advocated on health issues.

Lyonpo said at present those with terminal illnesses are sent home. But those patients don’t die peacefully. “People go through so much pain,” said the Lyonpo, who has been an advocate of instituting palliative care in the country. To help address this suffering, palliative care will begin in hospitals.

“We are going to collaborate with the Zhung Dratshang on the counselling aspect and for  psychosocial wellbeing our counsellors would to the family.”

Stressing on the importance of getting the conception right, Lyonpo said if a child is not taken care from the day he or she is conceived and born when the child turns into a drug addict, the child cannot be blamed. “Because we have not provided him with the opportunity to thrive.

“Everything is interconnected, so we must take a holistic approach, only then we’ll excel in our health indicators and that is what we want. It’s a very ambitious journey.”

Second thoughts on hydropower

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:04

Given that the mega hydropower projects under construction have become synonym for delays, cost escalation and increased debt burden, the latest updates on the hydropower developments in the country comes as a relief.

In the latest development in the hydropower sector, the two governments, Bhutan and India, have agreed to the modalities of constructing the Sunkosh hydroelectric project. It will be a massive project. Sunkosh is now confirmed as an inter-governmental project.

The two Punatsangchhu projects has caused doubts and even instilled fear that as a landlocked country, depending too much on a single export commodity, electricity, is risking its future without diversifying the economy base.

A concrete solution is being explored on the sliding slopes at Punatsangchhu that has delayed the project by years. A way forward will be known within two months.

Punatsangchhu II will see light by the end of 2021. This is a concrete timeline set well aware of the uncertainties. A solution is also being seriously explored to expidite the Kholongchhu project.

All these indicate some positivity. And this is crucial today because more and more people are becoming sceptical of our dependence on hydropower.

What we need to remember is that hydropower has been the main thrust of the economic cooperation between Bhutan and India. We may be challenged by geographical surprises, but the cooperation in building large environmentally friendly projects have brought great benefit to both countries and promises to bring much more.

The call was on diversification, the warning was on the risks associated with putting all eggs in one basket. Tourism was identified as one sector to reduce the dependence on hydropower. From the recent issues related to tourism, the risks are no different from investing all in hydropower.

Hydropower is Bhutan’s potential. We have identified many projects. We have the natural resources.  Some have their feasibility done. We put the brakes on because we didn’t know how to manage them. In other words, we bit more than what we could chew.

The past mistakes should have taught us a good lesson. It is said that learning from mistakes is the best lesson. Those who oversee hydropower development are convinced that we do not have the luxury of having too many eggs and one basket. The message is we make the best use of what we have.

With increasing concerns of climate change, global warming and associated problems, renewal or clean energy is still considered the best bet. The difference is how we harness them. The last decade for many Bhutanese was a learning period in how we handled the mega hydropower projects.  If we repeat them, we are fools!

All those involved in planning, deciding and implementing hydropower projects should have learnt from the blunders we made.

It is said that we are wiser after the event. If that is the case, we would be wiser in planning, deciding and implementing future projects. Not taking risk is not being decisive.

Hydropower projects are not imposed on us. We plan it. We have equal say in deciding the details. If we have learnt from our mistakes, try to be firm and not be the “nice Bhutanese” in making decisions, there will be not much to regret.

The fear should not be only about not receiving funds. We should be firm and able to convince donors what is right and what is not. Leadership here plays a crucial role.

Horsemen of Denkchung and Khomagang 

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:03

Choki Wangmo | Khoma 

Thinley Penjor has been a horseman all his life. Soft-spoken, reserved, and polite to outsiders, he appears a typical shy village person with a big heart on iron limbs.

His carefully-thatched stable has 12 well-built packhorses. Thinley Penjor, 36, wants to keep adding to the herd because it has become a lucrative business in the far-flung region devoid of road connectivity.

Thinley Penjor, affectionately known as Yesheyla is from Denkchung in Lhuentse. With more pilgrims visiting the renowned Singye Dzong in recent years, his passion for horses has paid off handsomely.

The change in fortune came years ago, when the dzongkhag administration gave Denkchung and Khomagang, the only two villages within Khoma gewog, exclusive rights to cater pony services to Singye Dzong.

The pack horses take about six days to complete the journey to Singye Dzong from the nearest road point, Khoma

The 13 households, self-sufficient in maize, millet and vegetables, were considered for the service, given their proximity to the holy site. They are semi-nomadic and rear yaks and sheep.

Each household gets the opportunity twice a month. The more the number of horses one has, the greater the advantage.

In the past, horsemen with good communication skills and connections were said to have taken most of the clients. Without a fixed rate, they charged exorbitant rates exploiting the visitors by charging more than Nu 5,000 per horse.

In the new system, instituted since last year, a pack horse fetches Nu 3,500. Although the coordination has brought benefits to everyone, horsemen said that they were still at a loss at the current rate. They proposed for increment to the Dzongkhag Tshogdu and are awaiting positive decisions as of now.

For those from Khomagang like Wangduela, it takes a day to get the visitors from Khoma, which is the nearest road point. He said that within the six-day journey, two days are lost in travelling. “If we calculate the daily wage, it is Nu 700 a day. It’s a loss considering the hardship and threats to our horses from wild animals on the way,” he said.

In the past, people in these villages requested for road till Tshikhang which would reduce the journey by one day, but it never came for reasons unknown to the villagers.

The maintenance of footpaths have eased their journey and reduced threat to their pack animals. The paths were usually narrow with countless stream crossings on the way.

Between June and mid November, a horseman earns about Nu 150,000. But business in these areas is as uncertain as the weather in the snow-clad mountains.

“We can easily earn about Nu 40,000 within a few weeks but there were times when even earning Nu 30,000 in a year was difficult,” Yesheyla said. Rules for horsemen say a horse can carry only upto 40 kilogrammes.

“The visiting seasons are also short,” he added, saying that it cuts short their opportunities to earn.

However, most often expenses are greater than income.

Yesheyla uses his income from the trade to educate his younger siblings and buy basic commodities at home. He is the bread-earner for his old grandparents, single mother, and his two children.

Five months ago, his expecting wife left for delivery in Mongar. Due to long distance from the health care services, the doctors advised her to stay nearby to avoid complications but it translated to higher expenses for the family.

There is a shop in the village but goods cost double the price, mainly because of difficulty in transportation. To save expenses, Yesheyla brings rice and other necessary items from Khoma, which is about a day’s walk from Denkchung. “Most of what we earn is spent on basic commodities,” Yesheyla said.

As of last month, the official records showed that more than 1,500 pilgrims visited Singye Dzong this year alone. There are about 100 pack horses from Denkchung and Khomagang.

Despite the absolute absence of amenities such as roads, hospitals, and schools in these villages, there is no gungtong issue here, which is attributed to increased economic activities from pony services and sale of Kushithara.

But what the future holds, he is not sure.

As Yesheyla pruned the manes of his sumpters, his three-year-old son watched inquisitively. When asked if he would let his son follow his footsteps, Yesheyla scratched his head, gave a shy retiring smile and said, “He may not! Soon he will go to school and then work as an officer, maybe?”

“The struggles and risks are too much!” he added.

MPs see issues as they reflect on first year’s performance

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:02

MB Subba 

Members of National Assembly on November 5 met in a “free and frank” session to reflect on the performance of the first year of the third Parliament.

Although the meeting lauded the Speaker’s neutrality and professionalism to a large extent, MPs remained largely aggrieved with services of the secretariat, protocol issues and the government’s inability to relocate their office.

Ruling party MPs presented verbal submissions of grievances and suggestions while the Opposition made a power-point presentation of the key achievements and challenges.

One of the long-standing issues has been the lack of an independent office where MPs have privacy with their constituents and better amenities.

A committee comprising officials from the foreign ministry, the department of national properties and the secretariat was formed in November last year to assess if the MPs could be accommodated in the National Assembly building. The committee has submitted its report to the prime minister.

Menbi-Tsenkar MP Kinga Penjor told Kuensel that MPs needed a conducive environment at their work place. “We discussed about major achievements and the way forward. One of the main issues is a proper office space for MPs.”

The National Assembly secretariat said that it was awaiting the prime minister’s decision on relocation of the MPs’ office. “The Prime Minister has asked us to wait for sometime,” Secretary General of National Assembly, Sangay Duba, said.

He also said that the secretariat had held a series of meetings with the foreign ministry on the relocation plans. The government had initially planned to relocate the MP’s office to the National Assembly, but the government has not identified a place yet to relocate the ministry.

The opposition, in its presentation, pointed out discrepancies in entitlements and welfare between MPs of the two Houses. According to the opposition, National Council (NC) members were on a “sunnier spot” in terms of entitlements and welfare.

The opposition also expressed dissatisfaction over issues relating to telephone and pocket WiFi services. It stated that parliamentary committees faced logistic problems during tours.

The secretariat’s key is job, it stated, is to facilitate MPs and stand up for the rights, entitlements and welfare of MPs.

The opposition also expressed fears of the executive undermining the role of the parliament.

Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi explained that there were discrepancies observed in TA/DA between members of the National Assembly and NC on ex-country travels.

Ugyen Wangdi said that there were restrictions on travel of Assistant Research Officers with committees. Some MPs expect the secretariat to make logistic arrangements for committee during their tours.

A NC member said they were not receiving anything more than National Assembly members.

MP Kinga Penjor said that they could focus completely on their work if the secretariat could work proactively in terms of providing rights and entitlements and other services. “But I don’t mean that there has been a failure from the secretariat’s side,” he added.

Secretary General Sangay Duba said that the secretariat had already taken action on the issues.

“We are trying our best to give the best services within the capacity of our manpower. It’s difficult to provide services beyond the available man power,” he said.

Meanwhile, members including the opposition lauded the Speaker’s neutrality and professionalism and implored him to strive even better.

MPs also stated that the relationship between the ruling party and the Opposition MPs have been good, albeit occasional unpredictable voting by ruling party MPs.

Overall, the meeting observed that the secretariat and assistant research officers have strived their best to facilitate the MPs. MPs, however, added that a lot remains to be desired from the secretariat.

Lack of adequate homework on Bills by committees and ministries have been one of the issues in the past and the same continued last year.

The last session of the National Assembly saw three Bills withdrawn or deferred due to lack of adequate homework, citing time constraints for research and stakeholder meetings.

Cabinet ministers did not attend the meeting.

All is well when meat is cheaper

ཉིམ།, 11/09/2019 - 16:01

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Meat price in Mongar will be slashed. There will be an executive order from the Dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) to not increase the price of meat beyond a 30 percent profit margin over Phuentsholing price.

This comes after deliberations in the DT where officials convinced each other with simple profit and loss mathematics.  The thromde committee proposed a price and the Mongar DT endorsed.

Mongar dzongrab, Jamyang Cheda, said that the thromde committee including the officials from the stakeholders like dzongkhag settlement sector, livestock sector, regional trade office, regional customs office, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) met and decided to impose the revised price.

The base price, dzongkhag officials said was taken from the price at source in Phuentsholing. Dzongrab said a team led by district livestock officer during the price comparison study found out that a kilogramme (kg) of boneless beef costs around Nu 240, with bones Nu 215, chicken Nu 140, pork Nu 155, and fish 155 in Phuentsholing.

The existing price of meat in the Mongar is Nu 300 for boneless and Nu 280 for beef with bones, chicken and pork Nu 250, and fish Nu 300.

Dzongkhag officials and DT members said fish was charged double the price and was the highest.

Dzongrab, Jamyang Cheda, said the committee learned that around three bolero trips with each carrying between 1.6  metric tonnes (MT) and 1.8MT costs around Nu 23,000.

“Even after deducting the transportation cost and rental charge of Nu 5,000 a month, the net profit is too high,” he said.

In line with the trade rule that permits a net profit minimum of 20 percent after deducting the expenses, the committee decided to keep at 30 percent net profit. The revised price would be implemented by the agencies concerned once the DT issues an executive order.

The price was last revised in 2013.

Meat vendors agreed to the high price and readily accepted the committee’s decision. However, they said the committee would fix the price considering the existing price in Phuentsholing. A meat vendor said it was also important to review the meat prices in other places including the capital city and implement accordingly.

There are seven meat shops in Mongar town.