Bhutan Gets A Brand New Set Of Cab­i­net Mem­bers

Business Bhutan - - Editoria - YESHEY DORJI The writer is an ar­dent blog­ger and the Char­ter Mem­ber of the Ro­tary Club of Thim­phu.

The mad­ness is be­hind us - elec­tions are over and we now have a brand new set of Cab­i­net Mem­bers. They may not be the lead­ers some of us chose - but from here on, they will lead us and our lives will be in­trin­si­cally linked to what they do and how they do them.

We know that they will fall far short of their cam­paign promises. In truth none of us re­ally ex­pect them to live up to ev­ery one of their promises. I as a ci­ti­zen will be happy if they achieve even 30% of their promises. And, in the hope that they will work hard and sin­cerely at achiev­ing those 30% of their promises, I of­fer them my CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS and wish them BEST OF LUCK.

Prime Min­is­ter: Dr. Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing

Min­istry of Home and Cul­tural Af­fairs: Dasho Sherub Gyelt­shen Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture & Forests: Yeshey Pen­jor

Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs: Dr. Tandi Dorji

Min­istry of Eco­nomic Af­fairs: Lok­nath Sharma

Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions: Karma Don­nen Wangdi Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion: Jai Bir Rai

Min­istry of Health: Dechen Wangmo

Min­istry of Fi­nance: Nam­gay Tsh­er­ing

Min­istry of Works & Hu­man Set­tle­ment: Dorji Tsh­er­ing Min­istry of Labour & Hu­man Re­sources: Ugyen Dorji

While the new Cab­i­net Mem­bers and their team pre­pare to take on the task of gov­er­nance, I would like to sub­mit my very short wish list - just four sim­ple and achiev­able ones. I most earnestly urge the new gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on the fol­low­ing:

TOURISM - For Bhutan Tourism is the most im­por­tant in­dus­try - 10 times more im­por­tant than hy­dropower. Thus, first on my wish list is TOURISM. Its ben­e­fit reaches ev­ery spec­trum of Bhutanese so­ci­ety – the gov­ern­ment, air­line in­dus­try, hote­liers, restau­ra­teurs, wait­ers, laun­dry man, the carvers and the weavers, the painters, pony driv­ers, guides, cooks, veg­etable seller, ve­hi­cle own­ers, tour op­er­a­tors, taxi own­ers ---- the list is end­less. We need the gov­ern­ment to get se­ri­ous with this sec­tor. Please in­vest some time and money to keep this sec­tor on track.

AGRICUTLURE - We have phe­nom­e­nal cli­matic vari­a­tion and our stag­ger­ing al­ti­tu­di­nal range is un­matched - from 97 Mtrs. at the low­est point to 7,570 Mtrs. at the high­est point. Our wa­ter re­sources are among the high­est in the world. Th­ese nat­u­ral en­dow­ments cre­ate ideal con­di­tions for agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion. De­spite all that, only 5.5% of our land is un­der agri­cul­ture. En­er­gize this sec­tor and re­verse ru­ral-ur­ban mi­gra­tion - help elim­i­nate Goong­tongs. Make us food self­suf­fi­cient and, if pos­si­ble, let us make agri­cul­ture pro­duce as one of our ex­portable sur­pluses.

EN­ERGY - We need the gov­ern­ment to turn Bhutan into an en­ergy self-suf­fi­cient state. We al­ready are! But some­thing is amiss some­where. Why are the cit­i­zens of a coun­try that pro­duces so much hy­dro-elec­tric­ity, re­quired to queue up at the fuel sta­tion for hours and hours, try­ing to buy im­ported en­ergy? Why is our own elec­tric­ity out of the reach of the com­mon peo­ple? Why are we im­port­ing bil­lions of Ngul­trums worth of LPG and kerosene, when we pro­duce hun­dreds of bil­lions of units of hy­dro-elec­tric­ity, in the process de­plet­ing Ru­pee re­serve, and caus­ing harm to the en­vi­ron­ment?

Why are we ex­port­ing hy­dro-elec­tric­ity at more than two times lower the price than that charged to Bhutanese do­mes­tic con­sumers? Why is the gov­ern­ment per­sis­tently fix­ing elec­tric­ity rates at a level that is higher than the im­ported kerosene and LPG? What is the rea­son be­hind mak­ing our own elec­tric­ity un­af­ford­able as an en­ergy source?

Please un­ravel the mys­tery of the math­e­mat­ics be­hind elec­tric­ity tar­iff fix­a­tion for do­mes­tic con­sump­tion.

EN­VI­RON­MENT - We have done enough of the talk about be­ing the cham­pion of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion, about be­ing a car­bon neg­a­tive coun­try. Now let’s dis­pense with the rhetoric and get down to walk­ing the talk. Stop en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ters such as Shingkhar-Gor­gan road. The con­struc­tion of the West-East high­way was a dis­as­ter to be­gin with - en­vi­ron­men­tally and fi­nan­cially. It has al­ready caused a se­ri­ous dip in the ar­rivals of dol­lar pay­ing tourists. My heart bleeds at the thought of how we are go­ing to be able to main­tain such a be­he­moth of a road, once built. Please do not ever con­tem­plate projects with such colos­sal en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion.

Here is wish­ing all the best to the DNT gov­ern­ment. May you bring the change you promised - for the bet­ter.

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