Saturday, August 30th, 2014 - 4:07 AM
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Is the Council’s counsel superfluous?

The ongoing parliament session will be remembered for two very important events – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the parliament, and the civil service salary revision. While the honeymoon period of the prime minister’s visit is over, many will keep talking about the pay revision and the taxation policy endorsed on Tuesday. But even as civil servants wait for their revised salary, there are important issues thrown up for discourse. Most important is the prerogative of the Assembly over money Bills, and the manner [... Read More]

A self-serving pay revision?

Dspite much confusion on what they were voting for, the National Assembly yesterday endorsed the final pay revision, with a majority voting not to accept the council recommendations. And it was not a difficult decision, as they didn’t have to discuss, in length, the recommendations passed down from the house of review. The council didn’t provide a time frame on its recommendation to defer the raise for senior public servants from Prime Minister to government secretaries. The house also justified that, by raising civil servants [... Read More]

For a successful neighbourhood

There were no big surprises announced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Parliament yesterday. But there is plenty to take home, not only for Bhutan, but the whole region, from the prime minister’s address. The prime minister stressed the importance of having a good neighbourhood, especially among SAARC nations.  While analysts are quick to note that Prime Minister Modi has one eye on China in India asserting the importance of a South Asian neighbourhood, the reality today, like the prime minister said, is that [... Read More]

Cementing already close ties

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in the country yesterday on a two-day visit, spelled out the reasons why he chose to visit Bhutan first, amidst political analysts and so-called pundits trying to guess why. The reason was simple.  It was a “natural choice” for him to make Bhutan the destination for his first visit abroad as the prime minister. “It was the unique and special relation, forged by ties of geography, history and culture” that made him choose Bhutan. While we had been [... Read More]

A vital visit

It is of great significance that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, is making a special visit to the kingdom on the invitation of His Majesty the King. Several countries, including the United States and Japan, have invited the prime minister to visit their country, as soon as he assumed power last month.  Any country he may have chosen to visit would have made an important statement. To the surprise of many, who were trying hard to get the prime minister to their country, [... Read More]

The dissension side of democracy

Everybody is talking about us! A member of the National Assembly, almost exaggeratedly said, pointing to the discussions on social media, coverage of Parliament in the media and the informal discussions on the civil service salary, vehicle taxes and entitlements for parliamentarians. All eyes are on Parliament as they eagerly wait for the final decision on the salary revision and vehicle taxes.  But even as resolutions and recommendations fly between the two houses, there is a feeling of some discomfort between the members of the [... Read More]

Taxing the taxed

Vehicles are prized possessions, be they luxury or necessity.  The news of  lifting of the ban on import of vehicles would have sparked excitement, if it were not for the revision of vehicle import taxes, deliberated in the National Assembly, snubbing it out. Instead, the feeling it has generated is one of exasperation and disappointment, despite the government’s reasoning. The reasons are, to some extent, why there is a disgruntled lot. But most importantly, the burden of tax increase, including the five percent on fossil [... Read More]

An eventful weekend

There is a lot to look forward to this weekend. Much of it will be on television as the much-awaited World Cup kicks off on early Friday morning.  It’s perfect timing as football enthusiasts and even others will have ample time to watch a few games. The World Cup tournament happens only once in four years and it is followed all over the world.  Although Bhutan and its neighbours are not participating in the tournament, it has never stopped Bhutanese football fans from getting caught [... Read More]

A flawed law?

The Speaker of the Assembly summed up the practicality of the Tobacco Control Act, which the house endorsed with some changes last week. After the deliberations and a majority of the members voted on the amendments, he urged authorities to strictly implement the Act. Some of the provisions of the most controversial Act in the country have been changed.  With the amendments, the amount of tobacco products one can import has increased substantially.  From 100 sticks, smokers can now import 900, after paying tax, for [... Read More]

The occasional capital

Thimphu city is being modified. Much to the honour of the government and the happiness of the Bhutanese, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen Bhutan for his first foreign visit.  The capital city is busy preparing to receive our special guest. Bridges and gates are being painted, drains cleaned, trees and plants planted and, very soon, we will see flowers suddenly blooming around to deck up the city.  Don’t be surprised if there is another mass cleaning campaign in the next few days. Curious [... Read More]

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