Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vehicle taxation policy

The increase in taxation on vehicles comes as no surprise. It is about time some drastic measures are taken to either limit the number of vehicles plying on the roads or increase the road network.

It is important to first understand that basic vehicles in this era is a utility and not a luxury. It is also important to consider the fact that although major towns like Thimphu and Phuntsholing are getting over crowded with vehicles, vehicles are still a rare sight in other areas in the country.

If the examples in other countries are anything to go by, a 15% to 20% will not at all effect the purchase of vehicles. It might cause a temporary reduction in consumption, after a short while when the increase in taxes is seen as inevitable, the consumption will come back to normal. This is light of the observation that taxation as high as 50% have failed to curtail demand on cars. This could be because vehicles are seen as a necessity especially when there are no reliable public transportation system.

The positive aspect of this increase in taxes might be increase in revenues for the government.

The increase in taxation being proposed is sensible enough to protect public transport and power tillers. However, it forgets the basics of taxation. Tax should be minimal on utility goods while it should be as high as possible for luxury goods. The proposed tax increase doesn't address that fact that some families own more than one car, especially the richer folks. A husband and a wife should be allowed only one car at the nominal tax as it is a necessity. The second car in the family should be subject to luxury tax.

The proposed taxation system does not differentiate between small cars and large cars. This gives a sense that the tax policy has elitist elements to it. Smaller cars are more fuel efficient and therefore will demand lesser fuel. Fuel is one of the highest consumer of Indian Rupee reserves. Small cars require lesser space too.

The large number of huge luxury cars on the road are mainly due to the tax exemption provided by the Government to the civil servants. To reduce the number of large luxury cars which have high fuel consumption, it might be advisable to do away with the tax exemption certificates to the civil servants. This is more so, because the civil servants and the corporate employees now have almost same salaries.

It is important to have a holistic and systemic perspective to change in taxation policies to ensure stable tax system. We would not like to see a change in tax policy today because of increase in number of cars, and a tax change policy tomorrow because the country is spending a major portion of rupee reserves on fuel or to accommodate more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars.

A committee consisting of members both from MoIC, Revenue and Customs, other stake holders would perhaps come out with a more holistic change in the vehicle taxation policy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friendly theory!

These day's I think I am exhibiting this subtle hints arrogance. I say this, because I have already used four 'I" in two short sentences. Hints of arrogance also because, I have this new drive to write theories, some might call it personal philosophies! Sharing and learning through my experiences! Well here I go! What makes good friends? I have this very special group of friends! The number is fast reducing as life brings takes us through new avenues of work and marriage. Many say that friends are generally people with common interests and outlook! Can good friends also be people who don't share commonalities in outlook and interest but be people who respect boundaries? Good walls make good neighbors, why cant good walls also make good friends? Well, some might say, with a wall, how can there be friends! As a very private person, I think my friendship is centered around people who can lead, respect and enjoy their own lives and still have the time to have a good time with other people!

I end with the theory that, my friend theory doesn't make sense and I stand clarified of my misconception before writing this.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


There are many theories explaining motivation and de motivation. It is a science by it self. Interestingly, i realize how even very small and minute things can de motivate a person. I have work in hand and i know i can do it well. I just don't want to do it because of a very small reason. Human .....the most complicated of us all!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I am bored, i have grand visions for my self, for family, my company and my country. I bicker about how things could easily be done in a better and more effective manner. I then remind myself that those decision making people can't be so stupid. I then ask myself why are they making the decisions that they are making. Vested interests ? personal gains? family gains ? or is a long term gain which i am not able to understand? Whatever it is, I think the least that any one taking decisions which impacts many should be responsible and that there can be retractions. And, reasons like the infamous "typo" may not be acceptable again and again.

I think a institution or a yearly journal needs to be circulated to show the impact of decisions taken by our policy makes. The right and visionary decision makers need to be acknowledged while the others need to be shown that they need to be more careful

Monday, March 23, 2009


I was on my way home at about 1:45 am. I had a small accident over the weekend, i think i dozed off. I am grateful to kenchosum that nothing happened to me, although the cost of repairing is pinching me. As i sit back and now try to analyze why it happened, i have come up with interesting reasons.

1. Alcohol - It was a weekend and like most people of my age, i had a few shots of whisky and it felt good. If this was the cause of the accident, i have driven that road many times, perhaps more drunk than the night of the accident.
2. Medicine - I had taken a tablet of citrizene at about 2 pm of the previous day. I was prescribed this same tablet at imtrat hospital few weeks earler and advised to take it before sleeping if i had car. I asked the pharamist whether i should be doing the same thing when i was prescribed the same medicine at JDNRH. They advised that as long as it was one tablet, there was no issue. Citrizine, i now know, causes drowsiness. don't knw if the effect would still be there 12 hours later because i started drinking alcohol about 6 hours after eating the tablet.

The reason for the accident i like to believe is was a compounded effect of all these reasons. I like a insight my friend gave me when i told him about the accident. Lot of people were using the word 'unlucky' to describe the incident, but a friend used the word ' careless' instead, and said unlucky is when you have left your car parked properly and then it still gets hit and you dont know who hit it. I agree

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Unravelling the mysteries of the education system!

Education! what is it? There is a need to first of all understand that education is more than just becoming literate. Many of the graduates i meet these days can probably communicate decently and read to a decent level, but the big question is can they comprehend the ideas and thoughts? Do they have the ability to read between the lines? I would like to see graduates who have technical skills that the market today demand or atleast have the self confidence to know that given the time and resources they can learn and adapt.

What goes into making such a product? This begins from the very first day at school. If you look at the curriculum upto the 10th standard, any subject is nothing more than english. If you are able to comprehend the English of a mathematical or a science question, the answer cant escape you provided that a certain level of common sense has been drilled into you. Language can be taught, there are proven methods for it. Common sense they say is not so common. I like to disagree. There are proven scientific tools of developing a childs mind to reason out well. These scientific tools topped with proper support from Teachers and parents can do wonders in boosting the confidence of the growing children. My personal experience is that self confidence can do wonders to a child's development. What I am discussing here are mere mortals, who can be decently productive in nation building. I fully agree that Geniuses who change the world come with natural gifts from heaven. I am talking about the mass, the many, the ordinary who can be make a difference in their own small ways.

As much thought that i like to given, with or with out policy support from the government, teachers are central to the development of a child. This leads to the understanding that there is a need for motivated teachers. Where do this motivated teachers come from? Social scientists more or less agree that a bare minimum financial incentive is vital for such motivation. The teachers in our country are given the highest entry level into the civil service, they are given some teaching allowance. I think this should suffice as the 'bare minimum' motivational financial requirement. The bare minimum motivational requirements being provided, why are the teachers still not performing? I think there is a lack of 'interested' teachers. Teaching like most professions are a function of the interest in the profession. Everyone of us have heard of exemplary teachers who despite the lack of resources have motivated the best of leaders. We need more of these people in our teaching system

All this being said, I think there is a need to set up a performance evaluation system for the teachers. This performance evaluation system should measure the effectiveness of teaching with feedback from students. Teachers who perform well should be rewarded handsomely with third country travels and recognition in national new papers. Teachers who perform extremely bad should be warned and similar repetition should lead to the termination of their service.

This is not a silver bullet answer to the many problems that our education system is facing, but one of the many possible means to revamp our education system.

Friday, February 27, 2009

the two different kinds of 50%

The Education ministry has adopted a cut off of 50% for graduate teachers to ensure 'quality' in the education system. Perhaps a right step forward, I don't know.

What perplexes me is the different standards of 50%. Graduates interested to join the teaching cadre could not achieve 50% and therefore, despite the vacancies, the teaching posts were left empty. Through the "light the nation" project, interviews for temporary teachers were conducted. Here too a bench mark of 50% was set. The difference here was that the same graduates who could not achieve 50% in the RCSC exams had percentages as high as 85% in the Ministry of Education ( MoE) interviews. Most of the graduates selected for the temporary teaching posts were graduates who could not achieve 50% in the RCSC exams. Does this mean that there is a different methodology and standard of the MoE conducted interviews? if yes, why offer only temporary posts, the graduates should be offered permanent posts. if no, why is there so much discrepancy in the percentages conducted by two different institutions.

In a time where our country is facing problems of employment generation I think it is questionable why employment by the education ministry is being curtailed. Instead of a drastic approach, I think it would be wiser to send the higher scoring graduates for high schools and the lower scoring students to primary schools. I am sure a lot of people involved in framing this 50% policy had scored less than 50% during their RCSC exams. Do they consider themselves below the required quality?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Civil society!

I am appalled by what i read in the the opposition leaders blog. MP's to get salary revision from April 2008, while civil servants get it only with effect from January 2009. I am more appalled by the fact that no official hue and cry seems to be there about it. Why is the media not reporting about it? Even if the Finance minister approved of such a note ( probably for political interests), why did the finance secretary not react to it? Just before democratically elected ministers were sworn in, capable secretaries were put in place in all the ministries to ensure that the there were proper checks.

Although huge changes in system and procedures have taken place in the way our society is supposed to function, we still seem to live in our past. Ministers still seem to have king like security. The empowered and capable secretaries don't seem to be in the picture at all. Fundamental rights of citizens have been defined in the constitution but no one seem to be exercising it. Media has been empowered, but still has a lot to do in informing the mass. Our present civil society definitely requires more civility. We need to take more control and responsibility. We are now faced with a government who will think a 5 year term and look at selfish interests. We do not have a Magnanimous King looking after the daily affairs of the kingdom and peoples welfare.

DPT government seem to be faltering a lot. I am sure there would have been similar issues if it was PDP at the helm. Both these parties are led by humans after all. What I think we lack, is a opposition who has the weight to make some noise. Most of voted for leadership this time. Perhaps, this is where we have faltered. We need to vote for capable constituency representatives to ensure balanced representation in the National Assembly. As important as it is to get the party we believe into power, it is important proper debates happen. Debates, check and balance mechanisms seem to be important for a vibrant democracy. We should not be swayed by pep talks like ' not to vote for the wrong/evil party'.

Lessons are being learnt, society is maturing, things seem to be moving....perhaps not fast enough!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Domestic flights by october!

A population of less that seven hundred thousand with probably less than 5% of the population able to afford flight tickets and, of this 5%, 80% will probably never have the urgency for a immediate flight into the East. And for the 20% requiring urgent travel to the east sometimes, they will probably not be able to wait for the schedule of flights which I am guessing might be twice a week at the most.

The plan is to rehabilitate the existing Yonphula airport. Any airport will require minimum infrastructure to ensure safety. What we will have is another full group of people almost as many as in the Paro airport idling away their office time. This is probably in line with the employment generation policy of the government, but the big question is AT WHAT COST? Huge number of airport staff, fire safety personnel, fire vehicles, revenue and customs personnel, aircraft monitoring and safety staff etc etc.

Considering our small population and smaller number of people who can afford air travel, limited area available for runway, weather conditions, people traveling at the end of the day on domestic flights would probably be Director level ( and above) on government budget,/ probably MP's too etc. etc, which is added burden to our limited treasury funds.
I think the way forward should be with helicopters. Easier and less complicated to maintain, for its agility given our weather conditions and terrain, lesser capacity in line with projected few number of people traveling by air, lesser landing and taking off space requirement etc etc.
More than the domestic flight services whether airplane /helicopter services which would benefit the few elite in our society, I would like to see road expansions, proper maintenance of existing roads and better public transportation facilities instead to benefit the society at large.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Before me is a system of courts, laws and procedures which i find difficult to call as the system of justice, although the intent is perhaps so.

I am not a brilliant man but i am not stupid either. I don't understand how a rocket can be sent to the moon but i understand simple english sentences and phrases in laws and acts. I know there are law jargons which are not daily english, but with "google" how difficult can it be to understand the jargons too. law-reason with out passion, a simple yet powerful defination. We don't need a law degree to understand simple and stated laws, we perhaps need law degrees to frame laws.

A small country and a smaller judicial community, how easy is it to obtain justice from the such a system? Best to keep away from it as far as possible, if my experience with it is anything to go by. They have the discretionary power to ignore incriminating facts and figures citing laws and procedures and other times they choose to accept facts and figures even though the same procedures and laws dont allow it. I wonder, if they realise at the end of the day all procedures and laws were framed to deliver justice. JUSTICE! JUSTICE! JUSTICE!

To get justice or get decisions in our favour, thorough my experience with the law, i have realised that, beyond logic, reasoning, evidence and law, there is a more powerful tool. It is called influence. It is a good idea to have a family member working in the judicial system or at least a relative, or at the least a very good friend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Passakha Industries!!

I recently had to travel to Phuntsholing. The Gedu-Passakha diversion gave me the chance to pass through our country's most industralised/polluted zone. Think fog/smog could be seen for a strech of about 10 to 15 kms. The pollution is a reason for concern for the Bhutanese and as well as the indians bordering Bhutan.

The logic of the industries in passakha is perhaps worth a thought. It consumes the energy the country could have exported to India. If rumours are to be belived it, the owners of the industries are mostly Indians, so most of the profit goes to India. The employment generation for the Bhutanese from these factories are neligible ( no data to confirm, but i have been told they are mostly Indians). Importantly, the pollution seems huge.

Perhaps, exploring high employment generation aveneues with low electrcity intensity is the right path. The Call Center boom is our neighbouring countries is perhaps the way forward!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

a starting thought!!

The power of anonymity! It gives me a George Bush like confidence to speak my mind on anything and everything, however stupid or non relevant it might be. Some might like to see it as cowardice, but i attach little importance to confidence while blogging, i just write to express my thoughts.

I recently saw the interview of the young British foreign minister. He is a ardent blogger too and see it as a medium of reaching the masses, a cost effective ways of incorporating views of the common people and thereby maintaining the common touch. The Opposition leader is also blogging. As a common man, i don't fear loosing the common touch, but I would like to observe shifts in my thoughts.

Palest ink is better than the best memory!