About fines


I’m impressed at the government’s readiness to abide by the law. Bhutan Today (whose website has been woefully inadequate) had recently reported that:

The prime minister has ordered the information and communication ministry to pay about Nu 2.3 million in penalty for not following the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures in the construction of the Bathpalathang airstrip in Bumthang.

But I’m not impressed at the prime minister’s cavalier disregard for the basic principles of accountability when he added that:

… the fine will have to be levied even if it means paying from one pocket to another.

I wonder what the Royal Audit Authority will have to say to that.

Incidentally, last week, in Bumthang, I visited the Bathpalathang airstrip site. The construction there seems to have already resumed. I am impressed.


Facebook Comments:


  1. If mitigation for intentionally degraded environment by irresponsibly planned project, ends up in paying penalty, MONEY…..so be it…..any financially sound proponent may start up a project and bull doze all regulations and just pay the penalty and carry on with environmentally,, economically, culturally, socially not feasible projects…

  2. from were will that huge amount2.3million will be paid,from PUBLIC money or from the DPTs salary.RAA,we will keep our eyes close to that and lets see how efficient you are.
    if paid from the public money,think about how much development that money can bring for us if used for our purpose.
    we would be satisfied if finance minister could report the source of the fine paid to the people of bhutan through BBS.

  3. apsha,

    Spare the BBS and the Finance Minister the need to report on this. Let me do it to your satisfaction.

    The fine of Nu.2.3 million paid by the Civil Aviation/MoIC will not make a dent anywhere in the government exchequer because what they pay will be deposited back into the government revenue account.

    As far as the Royal Audit is concerned, all that they have to ensure is that the fine as imposed is collected from the party from whom it is due and deposited where it is supposed to be deposited. Beyond that, RAA has no role.

    Whilst on the subject, may I caution all concerned that when you talk of slapping fines by the NEC, you risk opening up a Pandora’s box. So lets kill the discussion.

  4. guest
    thanks for representing BBS and finance minister.But your Voluntarism and omni presence in this discussion wasn’t clear to satisfy a single person.if the penalty is paid from the MoIC/DCAs account,then it is not a fine imposed rather it is translocation of budget.As far as i am concernd is that the source of fine should be made known,so that it is a fine and not the transfer of govts money.Mr guest,caution the defaulter and not the truth finders.

  5. apsha … I am making the source of the fine known – it is money out of the MoIC/DCA’s funds.

    Anything else you want to ask?

  6. Mr Guest,it is good that with my comment, you now understood who should pay for ones OWN default which is not a new system followed in our country.

  7. Ani apsha di gachi labiina mashey … ha go matsup

  8. I expect my auditor to be substantive, paying attention to what accounts and flow of funds represent.

    In the present instance, I expect a first-rate audit report to flag an issue. That is, a fine should result in a permanent loss of funds to the offender. As such, the reduced overall budget available to MoIC and the Civil Aviation, by the amount of the fine for this year, should be regarded as the relevant base-line envelope for budgetary allocation decisions of the following year.

    But, methinks Lyonpo OL posed another issue that may go beyond legal and financial matters: Where does the accountability lie?

    Direct accountability lies with the minister in charge and the head of the Civil Aviation. Is paying a fine sufficient for the offence, which after all represents their individual lapse in management? I don’t think it is…

    And, there is an even more important dimension of accountability – joint accountability of the Cabinet. No matter which minister is at fault, the entire Cabinet including the Prime Minister is jointly accountable, if the Cabinet is to work as one united team.

    Why do we want the Cabinet to work like a football team? Simply because happiness is holistic. From a citizen’s point of view, his or her pursuit of happiness has nothing to do with the artificial boundaries of ministries and public agencies.

    So, a Cabinet that walks the talk on GNH would take the joint accountability seriously. Right?

    How should such a Cabinet punish itself? If I were the Prime Minister, I would personally apologise in public. And, having discussed it with the Cabinet, I would make the Nu2.3 million available to a worthy non-profit cause.

    This is what well-managed corporations and their leadership teams do, in comparable circumstances. Why bother? Because their own reputation – in the eyes of their customers, shareholders, and their own employees – depends on it.

    Body, Speech and Mind … in all things in life.

  9. tenzinkuenlay says

    true, the sense of accountability must be held high. the cabinet must have approved without paying heed to any guidelines unlike private who gets fully fixed by imposing gudelines/acts etc.

    yes the govt .is paying but from where source is paying is a question?

  10. I think whatever fines NEC imposes and collects from defalters should go for a good cause. One idea is to have it deposited in the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation and have it utilized for conservation activities. That way, the issue of money being deposited form one pocket to the other does not arise.

  11. Again, this issue is really worrisome for me.I am wondering why didn’t NEC make noise before the ground works have started? If NEC wasn’t there, Bumthang DFO or Park Manager of WCP must have seen it happening? Even the Dzongda or Dzongkhag Environment officer should have seen it? Why couldn’t they report? These are the eyes, ears, nose, and tongues of the government (borrowing the words from our PM).

    Are we setting the trends for always remedying the problems after it has already been created? What if someone was there to stop the works from the very beginning?

    In this respect, accountability doesn’t rest solely on MOIC or CA. There are field offices who are also complicit in this serious lapse.

    In my observation, NEC has mostly been making noise when damages have already been caused, like the fire fighters mostly showing up when the houses have already been razed to ground.

  12. Is this supposed to be a joke?

    No one was held responsbile, what use is transferring money from one government agency to another. It is like a kid borrowing 10 ngultrum from his father to back back his father 10 ngultrum.

    If they were serious someone should have lost their job, or levied personal punishment.

    Or they could have transferred them to Haa as their punishment. I heard it worked with the Samtse Dzongdag.

  13. Dear hon’ble OL and readers,

    I am sure you must have seen this discussion thread entitled ” Government flouting its own environmental laws”. If not, read it. They speak of the same issue.

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