Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - 9:54 PM
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Finding a solution

The recent blasting at Gedaphu mining area has exposed a lot of controversy, besides marble and stone, to be mined. Every blasting is followed by residents complaining to the department of geology and mines of the damages it is causing to their houses.  In recent times, it has become more severe, with residents even appealing to courts, apparently not happy with the investigations of the DGM. Mining in Gedaphu or Jemina has been dogged by controversy for many years now.  We had villagers appealing to [... Read More]

Forward to the past?

More than two years after the blanket restriction on loans, the government is, step by step, lifting the restrictions, which many claim has brought many businesses to a halt. First to go was the restriction on the import of furniture and alcohol.  By the end of next week, restrictions on housing and vehicle loans will be lifted too, undoing all the restrictions put in place by the former government. A blanket ban on loans is bad for the economy.  Much of our growth is boosted [... Read More]

Possibly public enemy no. 1

Junk food, it has been established, is not good for health.  What’s also established, and gaining increasing criticism, is the impact junk food, packaged ones especially, has on the environment. This is in relation with the large amount of packaged and processed food offered at the altar in temples and monasteries as tshok. Most schools in the capital disallow students from bringing packaged food, like chips, biscuits and juices.  It’s called junk because it isn’t the sustenance required for proper nutrition and growth.  Parents are [... Read More]

Brewing a new way

Pemagatshel dzongkhag tshogdu has made a most sensible decision.  In what may be an unpopular move among the villagers, the tshogdu banned serving alcohol during gatherings and selling home brewed alcohol. The decision should be appreciated, considering that alcohol is a problem in the dzongkhag.  In fact, alcohol is a problem in the country, but our policies are mostly business friendly. In those parts of the country, alcohol is a part of daily life.  Some villagers begin their day with alcohol and end with it [... Read More]

A slip in standards

The poor performance in English is a reason enough to worry students, parents, teachers and policy makers alike.  The average score of 49.29 in a subject that was once considered easy is poor by any standard. Hopefully, it could be a one-time blip and that students will perform better from this year. Bhutanese students are actually expected to score better in the subject.  We start learning English from kindergarten, and English is the medium of education in the formal education system, except for the monastic [... Read More]

The housing allowance riddle

Most civil servants received their first revised salary with the 20 percent housing allowance. But many are feeling cheated, as the 20 percent housing allowance, the selling point, which the government used to justify a decent salary raise for civil servants, in reality, is turning out to be something else. The housing allowance is not for all civil servants, but selected groups, like the ones living in rented apartments.  Those occupying National Housing and Development Corporation’s (NHDC) houses in colonies in various parts of the [... Read More]

An airport trap

For the thousands of Bhutanese travelling to Thailand, the duty free shop at the Bangkok international airport is a favourite place to do last minute shopping, whether to pick up a gift or spend their remaining baht. But the duty free shop, it seems, is turning out to be a dangerous place to pick up a gift for your loved ones, or to window shop.  There are stories of how departing passengers are detained for allegedly shoplifting and let off after paying huge sums of [... Read More]

The housing loan

The central bank is being cautious in lifting the restriction on the housing loan.  A draft guideline is posted on its website for public feedback, although the feedback itself is not made public. The board of directors met yesterday.  It is not known what had transpired at the board meeting but, going by how the governor berated a reporter of this paper, calling him for information, there could have been some fierce exchange of words at the meeting. But one thing is clear.  Members of [... Read More]

Employable graduates

The government’s initiative of giving interest-free education loans will free many parents from the burden of finding resources to send their children for further studies. Educating children is becoming expensive and competitive.  We often hear stories of parents selling land, heirlooms and even cattle to fund their children’s education, in the hope of a better prospect in life.  This zero percent education loan will provide economically disadvantaged students an opportunity to compete with their peers, who have the advantage of not just finance, but also [... Read More]

A logical rural land tax

Call it bold, shrewd or dogged, but Mongar dzongkhag tshogdu has again resolved to increase land tax and propose the same to Parliament for a second time. Their proposal, submitted during the last session of Parliament, was shot down by the National Assembly, but this has not deterred them to risk a second submission.  This time, it seems, they have the backing of at least all the chairpersons of the tshogdu, the highest decision making body at the local level. Should Parliament take it up [... Read More]

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