Standing up for sitting fees

“Guest”, a frequent commentator, left the following note in my last entry:

Please pardon me but I am going to deviate from the topic to register my unhappiness at your support for DHI during the discussions in the Parliament. I cannot believe that a man of your intelligence truly meant what you said.

I do not believe that your blind support for DHI stems from your need to show allegiance to our King. I think it is wrong to do so. In fact, you ought to know, more than anyone else, that it would be a great disservice to the King and his noble intentions that the DHI officers continue to pay themselves such disproportionate sitting fees even while they are drawing huge salaries which the whole country feels is unjustified.

As a responsible citizen and the Leader of the Opposition who has earned substantial goodwill from the people, I am disappointed that you choose to opt for political mileage rather than oppose something that we all know is unfair.

First, let’s set the record straight: I did not make any statement during the recent National Assembly discussions on the DHI. “Guest” may have been led to believe that I did so by Bhutan Observer’s article on the DHI’s sitting fees.

But I did mean what I said to the Bhutan Observer: that as long as the DHI has the legal mandate to establish their own remuneration – as, indeed, they do – I don’t see how we can, or should, interfere. Recall that I made a similar observation six months ago.

Obviously, all of us have opinions on the DHI’s sitting fees. And we should voice them. That is good. But, we should also make sure that no one, particularly politicians and the Government, encroaches on the DHI’s legal authority. This is no small matter, if the rule of law is important. And, it is, especially in an emerging democracy.

So are the sitting fees for DHI Board Members too high? Yes and No. Yes, if we look at their fees in relation to what members of other boards receive. But no, their fees are not high, if we look at them in relation to the scope of their work. The DHI’s net worth stands at about Nu 43 billion. And last year, the Government earned around Nu 4 billion in dividends alone from DHI. But that is not all. We expect them to grow. And to perform even better. This, in fact, is what the Royal Charter states:

The primary purpose of Druk Holding and Investments Limited (DHI) shall be to ensure that its companies are able to meet the challenges and requirements of the corporate sector in a highly competitive global economy, such that DHI creates and maximizes returns to its shareholders, the people of Bhutan.

Let’s face it: we are talking about big money, and even bigger expectations. So we simply must be willing to provide adequate incentives to attract and retain people who will be able to run the company successfully.

But there must be checks and balances. And there are. Three of the DHI’s seven Board Members are senior civil servants who represent the Government. DHI’s performance indicators and dividend targets are established jointly by the Ministry of Finance and DHI each year. Plus the DHI is required, by law, to submit periodic reports on its performance to the Ministry of Finance.

Finally, I don’t know how to respond to the charge that I “…choose to opt for political mileage rather than oppose something that we all know is unfair.” Let’s just say that if I were motivated by “political mileage” I wouldn’t disagree with something that the whole country feels is unjustified”, would I?

The fact is that I’m motivated by what is good for our country and our people. Which, in this case, is about DHI, but, more than that, is about the rule of law.

 

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  1. While I agree with your your Honor’s justification on the need to pay more for high profile companies with risky and super-critical responsibilities I have a submission as well.

    I am pretty sure that DHI’s net worth of about Nu 43 billion earning of Nu 4 billion are definitely from companies like BPC, DGPC and BT among others. The interesting issue is while BPC and BT might require some strategies and management techniques, DGPC does not necessarily need any.

    DGPC as we know is the amalgamation of Hydro-power Plants which are planned by the government DOE/MOEA, executed by respective authorities and handed over to the DGPC-DHI. They are dependent on our rich natural resources and the fate of being in such a location. Nothing to do with having a smart DGPC or DHI CEO. Even a General Manager entrusted with the responsibility of managing the plants would be able to bring in the same amount of money. DGPC is supposed to reduce duplication of efforts and thus expenses by each hydropower plants and not just brag about the money they bring in since it is bound to happen no matter what.

  2. DHI and Royal Charter
    I am quite taken aback the way DHI has hijacked the royal charter in the formation of DHI and as an Autonomous body to do whatever they want to.
    Perhaps DHI has not understood the Royal Charter in its deepest and widest dimension. How would I Understand the Royal Charter if I were the Chairman or the CEO.
    I would percieve that the greatest worry of His Majesty is the miseries of his subject in greater percentage and the growth of poverty which is ever increasing. I would infer from HMs occassional visit to the rural bhutan that HM is so disturbed about the economic condition of our citizens-miserable life, caught in the vicious cycle because they have no capital and cannot invest and cannot educate and they do not have self-esteem because their livelihood is dependent on others and also when such situation occurs where is the individual citizen’s freedom from servitude. To break the vicious cycle for these people HM has been redistributing land. One can see easily that HM is so concerned about the well being of the nation.
    HM often reminds us the challenges we face economically. The economic resources at hand, capital and the need to achieve happiness. Happiness is a subjective matter but the distribution of GDP should be objective.
    We need to raise GDP anyhow to achieve GNH. GDP is required for government spending-for all sorts of development(Assumption-govt is perfect, ceteris paribus). The allocation of GDP should be such that it creates or portends to achieving GNH- 1.reducing inequality (I am specific here with our wage), 2.alleviating poverty and 3.creating employment.
    I would think that the Royal charter was issued to me (supposing that I am the chairman and the CEO) that I am entrusted with the task of achieving these three. and Here comes the true meaning of “Gyalpoi Ka dhe bahn re wa chi, bohn ser wa faang.”
    Now would I dare given the freedom of decision by the Royal Charter to usurp a huge monthly salary. The Concept of western CEO cannot be applied here for the moment-i think it is too early. The western CEOs are brimmed with imagination and brings home money and employment from outside and thereby contributes to the Nation’s GDP. Take for example BILL Gates. He thought out of the box. He created microsoft(we shall spare the talk on revolution brought about by the technology, so we shall focus on the economic aspect.) which helped the nation in employment and GDP by paying taxes. Here no one will complain if Bill Gates should give himself a salary of a BLANK CHEQUE, because his money does not belong to the nation. But whereas DHI is not creation of current CEO and the Chairman. They are entrusted the wealth of nation to manage and in turn see that the livelihood of bhutanese get better as year progresses and also most importantly that the wealth of nation does not fall in the fewer population who are already in the upper Gini Co-efficeint Index. The curve is such that the bottom majority is flat at the base that the curve extends farther away from the 45 degree line. We must bring the curve close to 45 degree which means whoever looks into the payscale should revisit the payscale scheme. Now seeing the payscale Would I (assuming the chairman) grant myself a wage which is unimaginable. Either the govt must revisit the pay-scale. looking at the payscale of the upper echeleon one can almost decide that the minimum paywage in bhutan should be 7000-10,000. If that is not possible, then I think we still need to sacrifice for our fellow bhutanese who cannot met the basic sustenance. The salary of the ministers and the chairman should be reduced. Sometimes it alarms me the way our policy makers think. Long ago our PM said that HM has given the ministers a right to a prado for their wives.
    My humble submission to the policy makers and people to whom HM has entrusted responsibilty is not to HIJACK the ROYAL CHARTER. Read HM between the lines. I think the way I work somtimes make me feel disgruntled because I work more and genuinely than those people who earns more salary.

  3. dralagyalp says:

    DHI and Royal Charter
    I am quite taken aback the way DHI has hijacked the royal charter in the formation of DHI and as an Autonomous body to do whatever they want to.
    Perhaps DHI has not understood the Royal Charter in its deepest and widest dimension. How would I Understand the Royal Charter if I were the Chairman or the CEO.
    I would percieve that the greatest worry of His Majesty is the miseries of his subject in greater percentage and the growth of poverty which is ever increasing. I would infer from HMs occassional visit to the rural bhutan that HM is so disturbed about the economic condition of our citizens-miserable life, caught in the vicious cycle because they have no capital and cannot invest and cannot educate and they do not have self-esteem because their livelihood is dependent on others and also when such situation occurs where is the individual citizen’s freedom from servitude. To break the vicious cycle for these people HM has been redistributing land. One can see easily that HM is so concerned about the well being of the nation.
    HM often reminds us the challenges we face economically. The economic resources at hand, capital and the need to achieve happiness. Happiness is a subjective matter but the distribution of GDP should be objective.
    We need to raise GDP anyhow to achieve GNH. GDP is required for government spending-for all sorts of development(Assumption-govt is perfect, ceteris paribus). The allocation of GDP should be such that it creates or portends to achieving GNH- 1.reducing inequality (I am specific here with our wage), 2.alleviating poverty and 3.creating employment.
    I would think that the Royal charter was issued to me (supposing that I am the chairman and the CEO) that I am entrusted with the task of achieving these three. and Here comes the true meaning of “Gyalpoi Ka dhe bahn re wa chi, bohn ser wa faang.”
    Now would I dare given the freedom of decision by the Royal Charter to usurp a huge monthly salary. The Concept of western CEO cannot be applied here for the moment-i think it is too early. The western CEOs are brimmed with imagination and brings home money and employment from outside and thereby contributes to the Nation’s GDP. Take for example BILL Gates. He thought out of the box. He created microsoft(we shall spare the talk on revolution brought about by the technology, so we shall focus on the economic aspect.) which helped the nation in employment and GDP by paying taxes. Here no one will complain if Bill Gates should give himself a salary of a BLANK CHEQUE, because his money does not belong to the nation. But whereas DHI is not creation of current CEO and the Chairman. They are entrusted the wealth of nation to manage and in turn see that the livelihood of bhutanese get better as year progresses and also most importantly that the wealth of nation does not fall in the fewer population who are already in the upper Gini Co-efficeint Index. The curve is such that the bottom majority is flat at the base that the curve extends farther away from the 45 degree line. We must bring the curve close to 45 degree which means whoever looks into the payscale should revisit the payscale scheme. Now seeing the payscale Would I (assuming the chairman) grant myself a wage which is unimaginable. Either the govt must revisit the pay-scale. looking at the payscale of the upper echeleon one can almost decide that the minimum paywage in bhutan should be 7000-10,000. If that is not possible, then I think we still need to sacrifice for our fellow bhutanese who cannot met the basic sustenance. The salary of the ministers and the chairman should be reduced. Sometimes it alarms me the way our policy makers think. Long ago our PM said that HM has given the ministers a right to a prado for their wives.
    My humble submission to the policy makers and people to whom HM has entrusted responsibilty is not to HIJACK the ROYAL CHARTER. Read HM between the lines. I think the way I work somtimes make me feel disgruntled because I work more and genuinely than those people who earns more salary.

  4. Invisible says:

    Dear OL,

    While I will “reserve” my comments on whether DHI sitting fees are high or low and will not comment, I feel that the “way” and the “rationale” used to argue and counter argue by both the MPs in the Parliament and DHI Chairman on BBS news clip were both not convincing and bit arrogant.

    MPs: The way I understand MPs’ rationale is that they are only looking at “time” spent on “sitting” in the board meeting or number of meetings. The way I see is we are not paying sitting fees for “sitting” in the Board meeting but we are paying for the “knowledge and experience” they bring in the “sitting” as well as “risk and decision” they take in the “sitting.” If this is the understanding, it is a fair thing.For instance, elsewhere companies will pay a fortune as “sitting” fee even if Bill Gates of Microsoft or John Chambers of Cisco sit in their Board Meeting for 10 mins and say a few words. They are not paying for “sitting” there for 10 mins but for a few words they have said or endorsement given. Here in Samdrup Jongkhar, a local businessman’s scooter broke down and he couldn’t use it for weeks. He took it to a mechanic in an auto workshop to fix the problem. The mechanic took “10 minutes” to fix it. He just tied two disconnected wires together and the scooter was up and running. He charged the businessman Nu. 500 as the charge. The businessman was furious and said the charge is too high for “10 minutes.” The mechanic said “That 10 minutes sitting on it is free. I am charging you for the knowledge I have for whole working of the scooter system. After checking everything, I discovered the problem. I have also checked and taking the risk by giving your warranty that you have no other problem.”

    The businessman was convinced and paid the mechanic Nu. 500. He felt it was in fact not too much. I think the “rationale” for agruing on the “sitting” fees should be something on that line.

    DHI Chairman: DHI Chairman’s counter arguement to use Royal Charter as a blind defense was bit arrogant even if it may be right. DHI Chairman should have explained the raionale behind difference in “sitting” fees between DHI and others, in a polite and cordial manner. He just spoke like any Goverment Minister. I was bit disappointed.

    Respects,
    Invisible

  5. I find it funny that people who know the least comment the most. It reminds me of empty vessels….. for example your “frequent guest” said:

    “……. the DHI officers continue to pay themselves such disproportionate sitting fees even while they are drawing huge salaries which the whole country feels is unjustified”.

    Now even a lay man like myself knows that DHI officers cannot pay themselves “disproportionate sitting fees”. Sitting fees are paid to directors of a board in any organization and not to the workers in the organizations. Secondly, how does “guest” know that the board of directors draw huge salaries? The board is made up, if I am not mistaken, of government officials (mostly) with representation from the private sector (1 member I think), so how can we say that government officials are drawing “huge salaries” when all of us are complaining about the meager raise we received after much hullabaloo by the government. I think people need to get their facts right before complaining about things.
    In fact it is good that the government officials can supplement their income (which is barely enough to last through the month)through board fees as long as they contribute to the performance of their charges.
    The DHi board has some of the best brains in the country and they have contributed to enhancing the performance of DHI companies both in service delivery, professionalism, and profitability. As long as they continue to contribute positively in uplifting the corporate sector they are fulfilling their mandate. As OL stated in Observer, “Nu. 15,000 is peanuts” if the board can continue their good work and keep increasing the profitability for government-owned corporations. The purpose of DHI, which as OL has stated is:

    “The primary purpose of Druk Holding and Investments Limited (DHI) shall be to ensure that its companies are able to meet the challenges and requirements of the corporate sector in a highly competitive global economy, such that DHI creates and maximizes returns to its shareholders, the people of Bhutan.”

    If you look at the purpose, I think the board is doing an excellent job so far. I would rather, any day, pay even Nu. 50,000 as sitting fees and have the profits of the corporations increase significantly than pay Nu.0.00 as sitting fees and have the corporations functioning like before with no strategic direction, professionalism, and low profits.

    • Ask yuor DHI uncle to make u the CEO of DGPC, a company under DHI with all the hydropower plants and you will give the most income to the country, even more than all other taxes. Do you have to do anything special? no, not at all, so the question is some companies are dependent on our natural resources and ecological, sociological, geographical context and have barely anything to do with DHI/DGPC smart brains!

  6. I don’t think corporations in real corporations so they don’t deserve the benefits that real corporations get. Corporations in Bhutan are owned by the RGOB, so follow the RGOB rules.

  7. I could smell that Tsheeri is either working in DHI or somehow related to some of the DHI members from the way he/she supports the DHI’s sitting fee.

    The fact of the matter is that we should remember all these profit making corporations are not created by DHI overnight. They are government owned and brought to these stage through the hard works of many people in the past. And, today I am more confused when people argue that the DHI board members sitting fee of Nu.15,000.00 is peanut as they make important and risky decisions. In my opinion, the NA is the most important meeting of the country where policy decisions and the country important bills are passed. Are they just not important? When the MPs can agree can take lower sitting fee, why can’t the DHI board members who are already paid unproportionate salary in the context of Bhutan. Also, in my opinion the meetings of the council of ministers are more important that the DHI board members meeting. Are the minister paid more than Nu.15,000 per meeting? I have no idea actually. Otherwise, based on the agrument of DHI’s sitting fee, ministers should be paid double the amount for every meeting of theirs. The crux of the point is that we should know where we stand now as a country. Is it fair to take such large amount (both salary & sitting fees) when more than 50 % of our people live below the poverty line? There has to be some balance and the good example is what our PM showed when he refused to accept his proposed salary raise.

    If our people’s greed continue at the rate of what we see now, the gap between haves and have not in Bhutan will keep widening and never will a time come to proudly say Bhutan is a country of GNH.

  8. I agree with most of the commentators that there is no rationality in paying hefty amount of sitting fees to the board members and lofty remuneration to its employee. Today, when less than 23% of our population are living under poverty and average civil servants earn less than 12,000 in a month; how can someone earn more than 12,000 in one sitting? Is it service to the nation or self service??? The Royal Charter was clear that “DHI creates and maximizes returns to its shareholders, the people of Bhutan”. It should be return to the people of Bhutan!

    They must have fixed their remuneration at par with the regional and international corporate/business entities which is, in my opinion, too early to reward ourselves at their level. In other parts of the world, they study, analyze, make risky investment, compete and then make returns/profits which are not the case here. Most of the corporations here are monopoly and invested by government and returns are almost assured. The major portion of the revenue comes from the hydro power plants/DGPC where the high revenue is almost assured. The revenue was there even before forming DHI and it has been fluctuating 5 to 10% up and down in different years depending on the rainfall. Similarly, the revenue from other companies like BPC and telecom were on raise with tariff revisions.

    I would have strongly supported, if DHI had rewarded their employees and board members after implementing their ideas and of course after achieving certain targets. So, paying very high at this initial stage sounds irrational to me. Since most of the employees are in contract, their pay should be comparatively high but not so high like today.

  9. Dear OL

    “But I did mean what I said to the Bhutan Observer: that as long as the DHI has the legal mandate to establish their own remuneration – as, indeed, they do – I don’t see how we can, or should, interfere. Recall that I made a similar observation six months ago.”

    I totally disagree. The DHI Charter does not mandate or require them to pay such disproportionate salaries and sitting fees. Where is it written that the DHI Chairman can draw almost two times the salary of our Prime Minister? Where is it written that the Chairman and some of the Officers of the DHI can drive in Land Cruisers while all our Cabinet Members drive in Prados?

    I also disagree that we cannot interfere. The DHI and the group of companies that they control belong to the people of Bhutan. They are not something that is outside or independent of the people and the government mandated by the people of Bhutan. The government of Bhutan as the elected members of the people has every right to question any body who are seen to squander national resources.

    Agreed that you and I and a lot of Bhutanese people know that, beyond necessity, the creation of DHI is seen as something of an imperative. I am not going to argue on the validity of this supposed imperative because doing so would be something akin to floating a feather in the void: it will never hit bottom. But I do not accept that this imperative should come at such a high price to the nation.

    It is also farfetched to quote that provision in their Charter “…………. that its companies are able to meet the challenges and requirements of the corporate sector in a highly competitive global economy”. What global economy and what competition? These companies are monopolies that face no competition from anyone, let alone global, not even domestic.

    And why is the net worth of the DHI controlled companies being quoted? This was not created by DHI: they already existed before the DHI was formed. So credit cannot be given to DHI. Talking of which, at a global scale, what is Nu.43.00 billion? It does not even represent half a year’s turnover of a fortune 500 company. Thus, DHI can never hope to be a global player.

    Agreed that they may be doing some work for the companies that they control but aren’t they paid a salary for that? If so, why is sitting fee admissible? Sitting is part of their job, so why should they deserve additional fees to do their job?

    Thank God no one here has as yet spoken about the competence of the people at DHI. That would take us into some completely different orbit altogether!

  10. I didn’t really know that Directors of the DHI Board were paid salaries. I always thought that Board Directors receive sitting fees, and not salary. Only the employees get salaries, I guess. I would request all to gets the facts right before putting forth your debates. Sometimes we read 50-60 lines of your ‘points’ only to end up disgusted that aruguments were based on ‘misunderstood’ facts.

    Thank you..

  11. This is indeed a very important discussion about the enhanced sitting fees for the various directors of DHI and its companies. I sit on the board of one of the linked companies of DHI and couldn’t help but make some observations.

    In the wake of the current efforts to enhance the level of corporate governance, part time directors including independent directors are expected to shoulder larger responsibilities and contribute more effectively in monitoring and guiding the activities in companies. The DHI has therefore amended the rules to enhance the maximum permissible limit for sitting fees substantially, so as to provide the necessary incentive and compensation for the extra work and time this would involve. More than anything else, this measure underscores the role which the DHI expects the part time directors to play to enhance corporate governance, with due regard to all stakeholders.

    The maximum sitting fee payable to a director is now enhanced to various levels per meeting of the board or its committee. I think Finance approval or DHI is necessary to pay sitting fees beyond certain limits.

    The DHI Companies reportedly hold their board meetings during week ends. The meetings often extended beyond one working day to give adequate opportunity to outside experts on their boards to give their suggestions without time constraints. Possibly, these directors interact with the company even after the board meetings on matters requiring their expertise. As the expert directors are fed with full information in advance by the company on the agenda to be discussed at the meetings, they come prepared to reach well informed decisions.

    In the past, it was customary for Finance companies to get the top names in various fields for their board membership, as a publicity strategy, though attendance and full deliberation at meetings were not regarded as matters of importance. The appointees usually consisted of bureaucrats (who could contribute through liaison) or promoters of other companies, professional friends. Unless the management insisted, their active involvement at board meetings was a rarity. As one management expert remarked, directors in Bhutan those days have little chance to deliberate and less still to direct. The promoter-management group that appoints the other directors does both in most companies and has no desire to `bother’ the directors with any extra work, apart from attending the meetings and collecting nominal fees and benefits. It’s a very different scenario today.

    Except where the company has financial participation from the Government or an institution, board papers essentially contain a short agenda and draft of formal resolutions to be passed at the meeting. Detailed proposals for discussion, supported by quantitative data or financial estimates are not normally provided. In such conditions, board meetings seldom last for two hours and most of the time is spent on pleasantries and small talk. Hopefully, the era of corporate governance under DHI will change this style and bring in a more serious, purposeful and truly participative culture into the board room. The question is what will be the extent of change and how soon it can happen in real terms. I see it happening already in many companies and we shoulod all be happy with this initiative.

    The utility of board meetings as an effective decision making tool will largely depend on getting knowledgeable persons from different streams on the board and placing full information and proposals before them, to provide an opportunity for free, interactive deliberations before arriving at decisions.

    Part time directors in various companies will only then be recognised and respected, giving a chance for their real involvement. Until then the concept of enhancing corporate governance at the board level will remain a mirage and the revised notification on compensating part time directors with higher sitting fees will make ultimate sense.

    The citizens of Bhutan should view this scenario with optimism and not make baseless noise out of JEALOUSY.

    THINGS ARE LOOKING GOOD UNDER DHI WITH THE GUIDANCE OF MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER WITH OPTIMISM FOR OUR NATION. SO, DON’T PANIC.

  12. The argument presented by GUEST is highly valid and I have no extra to add. GUEST made a sensible observation as I did especially when it comes to DHI Officers and other CEO’s under the DHI driving Land Cruisers when our Minister are driving Prados. How can this be possible and that too in Bhutan where we are a small society that every one knows everyone. I think we need to have some respect to our ministers as they are anyway the highest rank below PM and not the DHI officers & CEO’s.

  13. Come on Invisible, it is unlike you to be so limpid. You know that you are more than just a “bit disappointed”. Surely the implications of the DHI Chairman thumbing the Royal Charter to justify the high salaries and sitting fees cannot escape you. The connotations are so dubious that you and I dare not mouth them.

    Dear OL, the other thing that I am confused about, now that I re-read your post is your contention that “…………we should also make sure that no one, particularly politicians and the Government, encroaches on the DHI’s legal authority”.

    Is this saying that the Government has absolutely no authority or control whatsoever over the DHI and the manner in which it functions or operates? How did it happen that the Royal Government of Bhutan has forfeited all ownership and privileges over the DHI?

    Are you saying that the “legal authority” which their Royal Charter empowered them, indemnifies the DHI and it officials from all the ills they perpetrate under the protection of their Royal Charter and that they can do whatever they like without being answerable to anyone? I ask you, what kind of a Royal Charter do they have that it renders the government totally ineffectual?

    No Charter should have the power to override the government and if such a Charter exists, it is your duty, as the Opposition Leader to ensure that such a Charter is amended to provide for accountability. You probably will tell me that the DHI Board is there to look into things. But from all indications, the Board has failed to do their job, their duty to the shareholders of the DHI, the people of Bhutan. The Board’s responsibility is to protect the interest of the shareholders but what is evident is that they have been protecting their own interests.

    • Dear Guest: you answered your own question. Membership to the DHI Board is supposed to provide the necessary checks and balances. Plus there’s the Blue Ribbon Panel – they decide salaries, allowances and appointments. And then their the performance targets and dividend goals that DHI and MOF set jointly. All three mechanisms are outlined in the DHI Charter. As long as the Charter is current, I will be guided by it. I will defend it. If the Charter has weaknesses–too little Government oversight, for example–then push for an amendment. If amended, I will defend that version, whether I agree with it or not. TT

  14. i believe some of the members are both in Blue Ribbon panel as well as DHI board members. One maybe capable to represent in both the panels but at times i am sure there will be a conflict of interest. So, it needs to be looked into.

  15. Guest – you spoke my mind. Bulls eye …

  16. Dear OL,

    Thank you for your response. As in the past, here too we are both in agreement with each other. I totally agree with you that regardless of whether a law or rule is just or unjust, a law or rule that is in force must be respected without contest. In fact, only a few days back, I was making the same point with one of the DPT Cabinet Ministers that no one has the authority to break a law on the grounds that the law is flawed. Like you, I too agree that if one finds a law or rule no longer valid or useful, the right thing to do is to try and amend it and not break it.

    I am not going to be so naïve as to ask if you think that the Royal Charter of the DHI needs to be amended. You are too clever a person to fall into that trap. I am satisfied that you admit that your objections are based on propriety and not on rationale.

    I have not read the DHI Charter and so I am not aware as to what is included in it. But certainly if there is a clause that says that the custodians of the country: the government, cannot have a say in the way the DHI and its officer function, then certainly I must, as a shareholder (one of the people of Bhutan) of the DHI companies, push and encourage the government and you as the Opposition Leader and a parliamentarian, to have the Charter amended to make it possible for its management in a democratic fashion.

    Let us stay away from talking about the competence of the DHI’s Management, their Blue Ribbon Panel and their Board of Directors. Had they performed their job well, or had they fulfilled their mandate, we would neither be discussing this issue here nor would an issue have arisen in the Parliament.

    Dear DHI-FAN,

    Don’t go and put your foot into you mouth. I could dump a truckload of muck about DHI on your front yard and you wouldn’t be able to sift through it in your life time. Do not go about making a cheap dig by saying that the Bhutanese people are jealous. We are not. But certainly we are concerned when the Chairman of the holding company of the country’s biggest companies snubs the legitimate government of the people by saying that he has the mandate of his Charter to pay himself and his officers and the directors of his board sums of money way beyond their competence and capability.

    You are taking of enhancing corporate governance? Tell me, which of the officers in the DHI management including the Chairman and the members of the Board of Directors have past experience and training and exposure at corporate management? Do you even know what you are talking about? Look at the management team; look at the members of the Board of Directors; the whole lot of them are civil servants without any outstanding achievement to their credit. Name one among them who has a corporate culture to boast about. Give me one name among the whole bunch of them who may have experience managing even a small company let alone mega corporations.

    On the other hand, I ask you: isn’t it perilous that we have handed over such a huge and complex responsibility and the entire wealth of the country to a bunch of people who have absolutely no skills and training in the area of high finance and strategic planning and marketing? What optimism are you talking about?

    Like I said, I am willing to go with the argument that the creation of DHI is an imperative but I am unwilling to accept that it should come at such a high price to the nation and the people. Let the DHI be staffed and managed by people with established credentials and recognized reputation for achievement. It is then acceptable that such huge salaries and sitting fees need to be paid.

  17. Dear Guest of December 10th posting – I say that as there could be other guests who posts comments here. It will certainly helpful for the blue ribbon panel if you can spell out some names of some capable people that should be associated with DHI. Don’t think it is too late to do that… you will do a big favor by giving out some suggested names. We shoud all help out and it may find its mark.

  18. DHI-FAN

    My apologies to you but in my view, a complete overhaul is needed at the DHI. Not a single person on the DHI management team as of now has the wherewithal to competently direct the operations of the DHI companies to anything beyond the routine and the mediocre.

    I say that even people like Thinley Dorji of BT and Chhewang Rinzin of DGPC (MD’s within the DHI group of companies) are light years ahead in competence compared to Lyonpo Om Pradhan and Karma Yonten. Unfortunately, they have to kowtow the line of people like Karma Yonten who is both junior in terms of age and experience and exposure. No wonder there is so much grumbling in the DHI companies.

    What I suggest is that we hire a qualified professional manager from outside to head the DHI. The Board of Directors can be from within Bhutan. I would choose people like: Wangchuk Dorji of Tashi group, Ugyen Rinzin of Yangphel and Karma Singye of Peljorekang from among the private sector. From among the NGO, I would recommend Tobgay S Namgyal of BTF who has experience in fund management. From among the Cabinet, I think only Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho would qualify other than Lyonpo Ugyen but he is not too well. Other Lyonpos are either past their prime or lack experience in business matters.

  19. Guest,

    Instead of lecturing here, you should do a little homework or at least listen with an open mind to the discussions where DHI has been represented.

    First of all, it looks like you are very poorly informed, as are many people who listened to the BBS panel discussion last week with the DHI person. The DHI person clearly pointed out that the Royal Charter has already been amended by the Government and everyone at the panel seemed to be surprised at this because no one seems to know this. It seems that the Government had expressed concerns about the Charter and His Majesty had the grace to revise the Charter to accommodate all the concerns of the Government even though the Charter was not even a year old.

    If all the concerns of the Government had been addressed, what is the government complaining about? Or the more relevant question might be: Is it the government that is complaining or is it some disgruntled people (like you who have no idea of what you are talking about) who are raising this issue over and over again.

    Because the same DHI person pointed out that DHI is getting along well with the Govt. DHI is doing the IT Park and many other projects with the Government. He said that the Govt was happy with DHI and that the Cabinet was thinking about asking DHI to take over the companies that remain with MoF. If the Govt. was not happy with DHI wouldn’t they be thinking about taking companies away from DHI instead of offering extra companies to DHI?

    The biggest grouse against DHI seems to be the high salaries, but unless you want to make all the good people leave the DHI companies and join the private companies it looks like there is no other choice. How come no one complained when Nu 87,000 was offered to the BT GM who joined TashiMobile, when BT MD was only getting about Nu. 60,000. Comparisons are made with the PM’s salary, but when BoB advertised for a CFO for Nu. 80,000.00 why did it not get any response from Bhutanese people for a few months. Only when it was refloated and the BNB CFO applied was the position filled. If you have the skills and the competencies, you should go for it – but please don’t complain when someone else gets it. I am sure that with the coming of FDI the salaries will go even higher – at that time should we continue complaining?

    DHI companies are operating in a competitive environment and you have to pay market rates to attract competitive people. Guest, may be working for a company like Tashi, which wants the people at the DHI companies to be paid poorly so that they can easily be poached because Tashi competes with DHI companies like BT and when their bank comes it will compete with BoB. Guest, is putting forward the penny wise pound foolish approach. Such an approach has immediate appeal, but will only bankrupt the companies in the long run because companies are only as good as the people they have. You know what peanuts get you!!!

  20. Dear Clueless,

    The amendment of DHI’s Charter is public knowledge. Why is it such a big issue? Don’t be so dumb to suggest that I am against the DHI taking over other companies that are not already under them. If it is the policy of the government to bring every single commercial venture of the RGoB under DHI, so be it. I have no problem with that. My issue was that the people heading the DHI should be competent with professional background and training to head such a conglomerate.

    What disgruntled people? I thought it was the Parliament that brought out the issue and not any people like me. It would appear that you are the one who is poorly informed. On the other hand, if the government and the DHI are getting along fine, why is the issue being raised in the Parliament? I think you can’t think straight. In my view, the issue is not that they are not getting along fine but that the Parliament is raising an issue with regard to the outrageous salaries and sitting fees being paid to the officials and the Board of Directors of DHI. The whole nation agrees that they are indeed paid atrociously high.

    Don’t talk bull crap – TashiCell is a private company but DHI is not. DHI is answerable to whole lot of people but instead they are thumbing the Charter rather than being responsive. Additionally, Tashi Tshering as the GM of BMobile, in addition to being technically qualified, can be of immense importance to TashiCell since he has in-depth knowledge of the workings of their only competitor in the market: B-Mobile. Tashi Tshering comes with a knowledge base that TashiCell can never hope to get elsewhere. So his value is immeasurable. As opposed to that, what kind of expertise and skills can the DHI management boast of? ZILCH!

    What competitive atmosphere? DHI companies are monopolies. There is no competition worth a rat’s ass to worry about.

  21. These are your quotes Guest:

    Is this saying that the Government has absolutely no authority or control whatsoever over the DHI and the manner in which it functions or operates? How did it happen that the Royal Government of Bhutan has forfeited all ownership and privileges over the DHI?

    …… I ask you, what kind of a Royal Charter do they have that it renders the government totally ineffectual?

    As the Govt initiated and revised the Charter, it must have gone through throughly to ensure that all its concerns were addressed. It does not render the Government effectual. Its people like you, who have by your own admission, not even read the charter that is talking crap.

    As you mention:
    I have not read the DHI Charter and so I am not aware as to what is included in it.

    Then stop talking crap. Talk about things that you know. Pls read the Charter and then open your gob. Its the least you can do before preaching.

    As for you consideration of Tobgay S Namgyal of BTF as Director of DHI, I rest my case coz you probably dont know what the rest of the world thinks about him…….I am sure everyone reading your post is probably sniggering!!! The day he is even considered is the day DHI should be closed!!!

  22. Clueless

    Shall we keep this objective please? Are you trying to tell me that the DHI’s Charter spells out to what extent the Board of Directors and the DHI’s management should be remunerated. I am not such a dumb guy to be looking at the Charter to see if that has been covered. Other then that, please be reminded that it isn’t the Charter that we are saying is at fault.

    As for your comment on Tobgay S Namgyal, that is your view. I have mine. The one with the sounder base will prevail: we will have to wait and see. As for closing down the DHI, I have quite the contrary view. I say that the time is now to close it down given the present set of people managing it.

  23. The person who makes the most sense in this whole discussion is guest. When the discussion about lowering the sitting fees for the board of directors of various companies was tabled in the parliament, it was only right that DHI was also requested to do the same. As far as I am concerned a sitting fee of Nu 5000 per meeting is more than enough.

    As for DHI, they completely failed to gauge the mood of the public at large and instead of agreeing with the goverments directives which would have been the right thing to do, went on an offensive saying that as they were formed under a royal charter, they were completely free to do whatever they wanted without interference from any quarter.

    The main contention here is not whether the paying of Nu 15,000 as sitting fees for DHI board members is right or not, rather the question is whether it is morally right for DHI to pay their board members such a huge amount as sitting fees when over 60 percent of our people who are gainfully employed do not even receive that amount as their monthly salary.

  24. I do not think you may be proper, have you in fact considered the details?

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