KuenselOnline

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 - 8:29 PM
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A little help, please?

The National Council’s call for intervention in the construction industry, especially in the housing sector, is timely if not late. In fact, those in the industry had been requesting the government for some intervention, as escalating cost of materials, restrictions and high interest on loans has made the housing industry suffer in recent years.  The restriction, in the form of a ban on loans, aggravated the problem and house rents are spiraling.  This is happening everywhere and not only in the capital city. There may [... Read More]

Autonomous public hospital, what it means

Medical professionals’ favouring national referral hospital’s autonomy conveys a subtle message. Like institutions that have sought and gained autonomy from the civil service in the past, their wishes too are to break away from the bureaucratic complexities. Apparently what doctors at the national referral hospital have indicated for insisting on such a move was because they believe, autonomy brought them freedom from the shackles of civil service rules and regulations. The layers of processes civil service norms entailed, doctors said often came in the way [... Read More]

Better (roads) late than never

After decades of planned development, one area that is still a national priority is road.  Right from the beginning of our five-year plans, the country has spent substantial amounts, most donor or borrowed money, on building roads. Today, we have more than 10,000 kilometres of road, yet connectivity is a problem.  Our 20 dzongkhags may be connected with roads, but getting to them, not to speak of deeper in the gewogs and villages, is a bigger problem. As a landlocked and a developing country, road [... Read More]

Rural leaders disagree with NC’s tobacco decision

Concerns that some local leaders in the east share on the National Council’s recent decision to allow sale and import of tobacco speaks of lack of consideration of rural take on it. Perhaps our council and assembly members need to consult a little more on the issue to strike a chord with the rural folks that comprise a majority of the country’s population. It was this argument of majority support in rural areas that was used to shore up support among Parliament members in favour [... Read More]

Working abroad

Judging by recent developments, we could soon see the second batch of Bhutanese leave to work in the Middle East. A Saudi company has expressed interest to recruit Bhutanese workers.  They need 2,251 people.  If the company chooses to give all the jobs to Bhutanese, it would lift a heavy burden from the labour and employment ministry, which is trying its best to create jobs, both within and outside the country. Nine had already left for Qatar. Unemployment had been a growing concern for the [... Read More]

Concern over appellate body

While National Assembly might have endorsed the Right to Information Bill yesterday, some sections of the public found members’ decisions on certain issues dissatisfactory. The concern was with members’ decision to give the authority to information and communications ministry to deal with cases emanating from denial of requests for information. It was a genuine concern for some of the opposition members, a few contractors, businessmen, constitutional bodies and the media, who believe would have to frequently use the law. Information people have to seek is [... Read More]

A practical law

In amending the Tobacco Control Act, the National Council made some bold decisions.  It resolved to allow import and sale of tobacco products. While the amendment the council made will have to go through the National Assembly, and might even require a joint sitting, the controversial act has already generated a lot of debate. Tobacco is bad for health and Buddhism, the religion of most Bhutanese, vehemently opposes it.  Ironically, this is one act that has been one of the most difficult to implement. The [... Read More]

Information officers key to RTI success

Yesterday National Assembly members discussed issues pertaining to request for official information and in what format the request should be made while deliberating the Right to Information bill. In the preceding discussions, the members had discussed about information and media officers, one of the key elements of the legislation. At the assembly discussions and those of other forums showed, information officers under this bill were equated with media spokespersons that various ministries appointed in their efforts to ensure transparency. Spokespersons were more ceremonial figures who [... Read More]

For better cabs, cabbies

Information and communications ministry’s recent decision to suspend the issue of taxi licence could not come at a better time. Drive around any of the main roads of the capital city and every second car passing by on the other lane is a yellow-hooded one. Thanks to the country’s natural topography that does not favour other kinds of taxis like auto-rickshaws that are found in countries within the region. Despite that, the capital city roads are for motorists to play scramble-for-space game of sorts. Amid [... Read More]

No place for novices

The National Council has endorsed its legislative committee’s proposal to include a provision in its Act that will specify a minimum of 10 years’ experience to contest for the house. Despite concerns from some members, especially the younger lot, the house endorsed the provision with a show of hands, where a clear majority agreed to the change. Within the house on Thursday, there was a good debate. The provision is important and will have long-term implications, therefore, before the Act is amended, a good discourse [... Read More]

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