Friday, October 31st, 2014 - 11:45 PM
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The onus is on us

Bhutan will start financing the purchase of pentavalent vaccines from 2016.  It will be done through the Bhutan Health Trust Fund, as the co-financer, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), is withdrawing its support. It will be a huge burden to the fund, which is entrusted to sustain and promote primary health system through the ensured supply of critical vaccines and essential drugs.  The trust fund had been financing the purchase of essential drugs from this fiscal year.  An additional Nu 7.5M will be [... Read More]

The line between practice and proselytisation

Stories of the government persecuting the Christian minority keep appearing now and then in foreign media, especially in those with vested interests.  Quite often, the reports are biased and exaggerated. The Bhutanese representatives last week clarified to the Human Rights Council on the freedom of religion in the country.  It is straightforward – Bhutanese have the right to embrace and practise any religion of their choice.  It is their fundamental right.  The only restriction is that they cannot force others to belong to a certain [... Read More]

The closeted Cabinet

Cabinet decisions are vital, and what’s more important is the need to communicate these decisions to the public, for transparency, accountability and democracy. The fourth estate is the expected agency to disseminate such information to the public.  But its task is not without challenges. Access to information has become problematic. Media houses have employed different tactics – from contacting the media officials to sending emails and calling the cabinet members on their mobiles phones. Usually there are no answers, to the email or the phone [... Read More]

Newspapers – A riches to rags story

Editors of some 22 newspapers in Asia met in Hanoi, Vietnam, in the hope of finding a common voice.  The most common voice was that almost all the papers, albeit a few influential ones, are fighting against all odds to keep afloat. The challenges are many.  Journalists, including editors, are leaving for greener pastures, and newspapers are going under in the wake of the financial crisis.  One paper expressed that there are no professionals left to run the newspaper. But the most common problem was [... Read More]

A high profile affair

There is an air of excitement and suspense among those closely following the case being heard by bench four of the Thimphu district court.  The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is prosecuting two individuals relating to a case that was settled about a decade back. A trend has already been set with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) digging up cases retrospectively.  And there is every reason for OAG to prosecute the former royal advisory councillor, Chang Ugyen, and the former National land commission official, Sonam [... Read More]

An idea whose time has gone?

When the in-service bachelor’s degree programme was initiated by the Royal Civil Service Commission, it was welcomed and appreciated by all. It acknowledged the need for employees to upgrade their education for career enhancement and professionalism.  That good move, however, over recent years, has proved to be a challenge and has gained criticism. Firstly, offices in various ministries were faced with a human resource challenge.  This affected service delivery or work output and achievement. Secondly, the performance of the civil servants, who had undergone bachelor’s [... Read More]

What for the festive season

The only preparation visible, besides the monks practising dances for the Thimphu tshechu, is the space reserved by shopkeepers and vendors along Norzin lam.  The road will be closed for traffic and, for three days, it will be an open market. Sales thrive as shopkeepers use the space to clear their old stock at cheaper prices, and tshechu goers and shoppers take advantage of the so called “sale”.  But there is trouble waiting.  It was quite a scene yesterday, as would be vendors and shopkeepers [... Read More]

Over to youth

Bhutan’s voter population is increasing.  By the next round of local government elections in 2016, there will be 44,500 new voters qualified to vote for the first time. If that is a huge number, there will be more by the third parliamentary elections in 2018.  We have a relatively young population.  If half of our population is below the age of 25 years, 30 percent of the population was made up of children below 15 years, according to the Bhutan Living Standard Survey. Most in [... Read More]

RCSC cracks the whip

Of late, some civil servants have been busy filling the daily log of activity form, apart from their daily task.  This is one of the many activities the royal civil service commission has undertaken as part of the organisational development exercise. The exercise will show how much a civil servant is occupied from 9 am to 5 pm.  In other words, how much they are really doing in a day, and how it compares to their terms of reference or job responsibilities. The first reaction, [... Read More]

Victory over poverty

Going by the poverty assessment report, extreme poverty can be a thing of the past by 2036.  It sounds a long way off, but given that planned developments started only in the 1960s, it will be quite an achievement. What is more commendable is that some Bhutanese will see the country eradicate extreme poverty in their generation.  The elder generation will vividly recall how they lost family members before the age of 50, how mothers or children died at birth, and formal schooling was mostly [... Read More]

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