Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - 6:31 AM
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The excise equation

Word that the government of India is also contemplating withdrawing the excise duty refund has, as expected, got the electorate worried, because it comes close on the heels of subsidy cuts for cooking gas and kerosene. It is once again about the state of Indo-Bhutan relations, which has been politicised to such an extent, no one would have ever guessed it would be that way. By all accounts, the excise duty refund does form a substantial source of revenue for the Bhutanese government.  Only last [... Read More]

Winning elections isn’t everything

Yesterday was the first Sunday of the month and therefore pedestrian day, an initiative of the former government. This initiative, depending on which party the people elect to form the new government, could remain or forever become part of the past. The DPT has said that it will keep it going, and the PDP has said that it will remove it. That will be decided when the country goes to polls for the second time in its history to elect a new government five days [... Read More]

One way or the other …

A week from today Bhutan will once again go to polls and by evening it should be known whom the people have chosen to form the government for the next five years. As it stands now, it has become near impossible to predict which party the people will choose.  Five weeks ago, after the primaries were held, it looked like one party had a good chance.  Since then a lot has changed, or appears to have changed, as preferences for the electorate. In fact, some [... Read More]

Worst-case scenario avoided

Since the July 3 South Thimphu public debate, where the DPT candidate hinted the party would back out if it has undermined the greater interest of the nation, there has been concern over what course the election process will take. The next day, the DPT campaign in the east came to an abrupt halt, with party leaders and candidates all suddenly rushing to Thimphu. The media was told that they were heading to the capital to discuss the impact of the sudden withdrawal of subsidy [... Read More]

To put the nation first

What has been unfolding in the past weeks through the campaigns and political debates clearly shows a split in Bhutanese society.  Most of the time, it is about trying to bring the other candidate down, rather than something more substantial. It has, in most certain terms, weakened Bhutan as a nation.  It has created misunderstanding and distrust in this peaceful landlocked nation of a little more 700,000 people. It also goes to indicate that perhaps the level of understanding of issues among the electorate may [... Read More]

A kitchen crisis

While discussions continue between the two countries on the cooking gas and kerosene subsidy, Bhutanese consumers continued to gather yesterday at LPG gas depots, which still had cylinders procured at the subsidised rate. By last evening, depots with the subsidised stock were all cleaned out, which means the new unsubsidised price will automatically come into effect from today. Domestic or household users have been startled by the new unsubsidised pricing, not only because of a natural tendency of not wanting to pay more, but because [... Read More]

The honeymoon is over

All kinds of messages are being read into the withdrawal of subsidy by the government of India on cooking gas and kerosene that Bhutan imports. This is only to be expected, because it is election time here, and the general election is barely 10 days away. Without the subsidy, both essential items will now be double and triple their existing prices.  This will get voters all worked up. The interim government has said that it is taking up the matter with the government of India [... Read More]

The trouble with the postal ballot

Amongst the electorate, the general consensus on the postal ballot is that, if the facility is extended to as many people as possible, more would vote. There is some logic here, when considering the number of people, who are not concerned about the elections because they do not intend to vote. This is because they lack the means to go back to their villages to cast their vote in person.  Going home would involve taking several days leave from an informal job that might not [... Read More]

The trade-off

When social media sites yesterday said that the central bank had sold USD 200M to buy INR and liquidate short-term INR borrowings, no one quite believed it. This is understandable, because social media sites carry a lot of information that generally turns out to be based on hearsay. But it turned out to be true, although relevant officials could not be contacted, or simply refused to respond to telephone calls. This is probably because they are civil servants, who must be apolitical, and anything they [... Read More]

On a slippery slope

At the annual conference for lam netens that began yesterday in the capital, some of the senior monks had insightful observations of the ongoing political campaign. As religious leaders, who must stay above politics, and are watching the political process unfold as outsiders, one commented that looking at the way the campaign was going, the future did not look very stable. The senior monk was probably referring to the way the process has divided society, as poll day draws closer. Many among the electorate would [... Read More]