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Editorial: More than a housing problem

18 February, 2009 – In acknowledging the housing problem in urban Bhutan, the debate has so far focused on rent, particularly excessive rent increases. But, in the long run, rent control will not provide affordable housing. We need to look at broader policy issues.Rent control, in fact, can cause a shortage of affordable homes. It might discourage the construction of apartments at a time when landlords complain they are unable to pay their loan instalments. Bhutans Tenancy Act, although reasonable and well intended, will be [... Read More]

Editorial: Roofs overheads

14 February, 2009 – In the wake of the civil service pay hike, Lyonchhoen appealed to house owners not to raise their rents. But rents in Thimphu and other towns are escalating. House rent in the capital has galloped ahead of income as demand outstrips supply. Salary earners are paying a large proportion of their income as house rent.With the rising frustration of urban residents, affordable housing threatens to become a political issue. So far, no political leaders, some house owners, have championed it. It [... Read More]

Editorial: Hurry slowly

11 February, 2009 – A dilemma of the new government for that matter any government is what does it do about mistakes that are too expensive to correct? Along with that what do we do about wrong trends that have developed from the absence of timely decisions or implementation?Why are fifth floors now allowed in Thimphu? Because everyone has built them anyway, although it was illegal. Why can we not reduce television channels? Because they have already been allowed. Why can we not broaden some [... Read More]

Editorial: Avoiding pitfalls

7 February, 2009 – The education ministry had no choice but to return to English as the medium for teaching history. It took a while to reverse a decision in this case a wrong decision but it has been done. The question is: have we learnt from the mistake?In our case we lost a few years. If we look at the Malaysian experience, after totally converting the education system into Malay, experts estimate that they lost two generations. The problem, in both cases, was not [... Read More]

Editorial: Youth and the monks

4 February, 2007 – We believe that Bhutans monk body has contributed to the peace and prosperity that the people have enjoyed as well as to national security. Spiritual well being has been concomitant with national well being and our monks conduct important ceremonies throughout the year.Our monastic community is as busy as ever, perhaps more so, as the population rapidly increases. Apart from the demanding ceremonies, monks are in great demand because nearly every Bhutanese household still conducts the annual lochhoe, rimdros, and other [... Read More]

Editorial: Tomorrow

31 January, 2009 – With the government streamlining salaries and benefits and other incentives for people in different professions we hope that there will be a more contented work force building Bhutan today. The priorities will change with the times so it will be a continuous process. Meanwhile it appears that we need to give more thought to the future generation as it prepares to take over this exciting yet ominous responsibility.In an informal exchange with civil servants this month the prime minister announced that [... Read More]

Editorial: Change based on reason

28 January,2009 -Not many people are happy about the salary revision? No surprise. Would any other proportionate raise have made everyone happy? No.A comment on Kuenselonline asked, Why are people in a GNH country so unhappy? If the question implies that a GNH society should not be concerned about salaries it is skewed reasoning. GNH requires that happiness takes precedence over material wealth but acknowledges the importance of a comfortable life. The salary revision was certainly not about GNH but it was an element of [... Read More]

Editorial: Responsibilities of citizenship

24 January, 2009 – The world listened to President Obamas speech this week, thousands of Americans reduced to tears by the change including the sheer significance of the United States being able to elect its first black president. The president, one of the most articulate orators today, did point out this incredible change in the U.S., but he said much more.Obama made a critical point that could not but strike home an important point for Bhutanese listeners. the question we ask today is not whether [... Read More]

Editorial: The others

21 January,2009 – Will the salary revision raise the cost of living in Bhutan? Perhaps a more relevant question is would the cost of living remain unchanged if there was no salary revision?No, not when we import most of our essentials and our cost of living is decided outside the country. The truth is that standard of living in Bhutan is directly proportionate to our imports. The salary revision does raise many issues and that is why it was debated more than democracy. The first, [... Read More]

Editorial: Yes minister

17 January, 2009 – Politicians, who become parliamentarians, ministers, prime minister, come into power with the mandate of the people. In the Bhutanese prime ministers words, they have the privilege to dream. The understanding is that, if they have the right dreams, they succeed as national leaders. If not, they will be looking for new jobs.Bureaucrats are life-long professionals, trained to implement those dreams. The civil service is, supposedly, the intelligent machinery to carry out the orders of the cabinet. Together they form the government. [... Read More]