Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 - 7:22 PM
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A rethink on the reserve?

Given the huge volume of import from India, opinions differ on the merit of hoarding so many dollars

Currency: Bhutan is rich in hard currency reserve, but poor when it comes to rupee, begging the question why hold on to hard currency when the volume of the country’s trade is the maximum with India?

As of March, the central bank had a rupee reserve of Rs 10.9B (about USD 173M) compared to USD 834.9M, equivalent to around Rs 52B secured as convertible currency reserve.  This is almost five times more than the much needed rupee reserve.


Major quake likely to cripple mobile cellular services

Telecom: It is likely that the country’s mobile cellular services will become unavailable in the event of a major disaster hitting Bhutan.

When the April 25 earthquake struck Nepal, mobile cellular services even in Bhutan were affected.

Both the country’s telecommunications providers, Bhutan Telecom and Tashi InfoComm, have confirmed that this is a likely scenario.  The reason being put forth by the two companies is that their networks will not be able to handle the resulting surge in traffic.


Picture story

New Appointments: (from left) – His Majesty The King yesterday granted dhar to the General Secretary of the National Assembly Secretariat, Sangay Duba, the Works and Human Settlement Secretary, Phuntsho Wangdi, the Economic Affairs Secretary, Dasho Yeshi Wangdi and the Attorney General, Shera Lhendup.


Not seeing aye to aye

NC and NA remain at odds on whether commissioners/constitutional post holders need first to resign from civil service

Amendment: The National Council did not accept the amendment that commissioners and members of constitutional offices need not resign from the civil service on their appointment, as endorsed by the Assembly to the Entitlement and Service Conditions Act for the holders, members and commissioners of the constitutional office of Bhutan (amendment) bill 2014.


When opinions differ…

When the National Assembly passed the Entitlement and Service Conditions for Commissioners of Constitutional Offices (amendment) Bill, repealing the provision that requires commissioners and members of constitutional offices to resign, the expectation was that there would be a deadlock.

As expected, the National Council has objected to the amendment.  The house of review, rather endorsed that members and commissioners be reappointed for a second term.


Passing the buck on a pledge?

Govt. says it awaits pvt. sector proposal so as to set up three new colleges in the east

Education: Establishing three new colleges in the east would not be possible in a short period of time, but upgrading the existing ones would address immediate issues, home minister Damcho Dorji said at the Assembly’s question hour session yesterday.

Lyonpo said that, although the government had received several foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals for the establishment of three colleges, the government is waiting for a private entity to come forward.


What happened to a power tiller each to chiwog?

Agriculture: If there is no ox, how can a work to be done by an ox be really done? The question is critical, indeed. That was the gist of National Assembly’s question-answer session with agriculture minister yesterday.

When the present government fought the elections, providing a power tiller to every chiwog was a promise it made, among others.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji said that people in the rural areas need not power tillers but the service of the machine to grow the food they need to grow.


Diversifying and reforming subjects

Education: In a move towards preparing students better in classrooms, so that they are exposed to varied fields of study, the department of curriculum, research and development (DCRD) is working on diversifying subjects that are taught in schools.

About a decade ago, besides compulsory subjects (English, mathematics, history, geography, science and Dzongkha), optional subjects were limited for classes IX, X, XI and XII.


Widow awaits compensation

Her husband, a municipal worker, died at the work site due to a collapsed wall on April 1 

Accident: On April 1 Man Maya Rai, 74, lost her husband when a wall collapsed on him as he was cleaning a drain by the roadside.

She is survived by two sons: one with impaired hearing and the other speech impaired.  After her husband Amrit Bdr Rai died, the family of 10 members has been surviving on the Nu 5,000 salary that her hearing impaired son earns by working with the thromde.

More than a month and a half after the incident, the family is yet to receive any compensation for the worker’s death. “We went to the thromde office to enquire, but they said they’re working on it,” she said.


Gamrichu gorges on paddy fields

DSC01662Paddy fields along the sides of Gamrichu in Buna have considerably shrunk over the past decade

What the river gives with one hand (irrigation), it takes away with the other (erosion)

Disaster: When do farmers not welcome monsoon?  Ask the rice-growing farmers of Buna in Trashigang.

The much-needed rains are on its way, but farmers are worried, lest it might take another portion of their paddy fields.  For the last many years, some 27 households of Buna had been literally witnessing their paddy fields washed away by the river Gamri that also help them cultivate paddy.  The river, notorious for flash floods, has been the villagers’ nemesis.

With the shoreline inching towards the fields annually, farmers fear it will not take long before the whole area turns into a river course.  And they are helpless.