Accountability matters

The government is yet to issue an official statement rescinding the prime minister’s executive order of 13 November 2009 that liberalized tourist tariffs.

Meanwhile, a big majority of the people (57%) who took our poll think that the prime minister should be held accountable for trying to liberalize the tourist tariff. 26% held TCB accountable. And only 17% blamed McKinsey.

I agree with the results of our poll. No matter what, if any, consultations led to the big shift in tourism policy, ultimately it was the cabinet, particularly the prime minister, who approved the tariff liberalization. And who signed the executive order to that effect.

But what about TCB? Well, they are civil servants. And, as professionals, they will advise the government. But, they cannot force their decisions on the government. On the other hand, they, as civil servants, will defend and justify the decisions of their political masters.

And McKinsey? They may be a huge multinational company. And the world’s most famous consultants. But they are just that, consultants.


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  1. chhophyel says

    OL, I am glad that McKinsey’s proposal to liberalize tourist tariff is finally out the window. I am not sure your survey poll is something that I will buy into because this doesn’t say anything. we all know that everyone is going to make PM the scapegoat, if company fails who gets blame-CEO. The survey on blogs can be less effective unless conduct a proper survey through survey monkey or other popular sites asking paritular questions targeting differnet groups. Otherise, at click of a mouse button, anyone can say PM, TCB and McKinsey, who knows how many times one person will take your survey and blame PM, lots of redundancy!

  2. Dear Chhophyel:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the poll results are not necessarily reliable. They give only indicative results, best enjoyed with a pinch of salt.

    On the McKinsey proposal…see my next post.

  3. His Majestty King said, “bigger the post, greater the responsibility”.

    Our leaders are paid to do their jobs well and do it in the best interest of the nation. If they fail in these functions, there is no need for them to be our leaders. If they do not take responsibility for the damage they have caused to the nation, intentionally or not intentionally, then who will? I think we need to urgently make some ammendments to our Constitution. Astonishingly, you know, there is not a single article that deals with the impeachment of our elected leaders for their misdoings directly by the people. As you can see, we can never impeach the Prime Minister and, for that matter any of our current elected leaders, by the 1/3rd majority in the Parliament by the vote of no confidence in the house where the majority party occupy 99% of the seats. In such a situation, we need to have another section to impeach the leaders by the people. For example: an elected leader can be impeached for his misdoings by submitting names of at least 10,000 people of this country, signed and attested by each indivuals, to the Speaker of the House. Otherwise, our leaders will commit blunders and end up saying, ” I am sorry”. Well, you see, failure is not an option here.

  4. Tshering says

    O L is just trying to act nice guy here. Marriage by any definition binds two people as one and for that matter, any business owned by wife is as good as owned by husband too la, especially if you guys are living in the same house and not separated. It looks funny when you try to define it with some nice words.

    I see no harm in owning property though. There is no harm in getting rich. I would rather prefer Bhutanese people get prosperous in their own land than having some jai Prakash or L&T take back all the money. At least our own people are doing something.However, the rudeness and crudeness shown by MP Tshering Penjore was too much. People have right to ask because MPs, whether they like it or not, are public reps.

  5. OL, now that the liberalization of tariff is out the window, but the increase in tariff has raised my ears. I think it wont make any difference all that is going to happen is the over sea agents are going to make more money
    (Undercutting). so what is the point in increasing and making it more hazardous for the local people. And, what about the Indian tourist, i know they dont pay royalty(So called)but they bring in good money and many hotels, guides and drivers are engaged during off season.
    I think there are many loop holes in the tariff system and our country wont be benefiting from this decision, neither will the government.

  6. guardian says

    The executive order liberalizing tourist tariffs should have never been revoked. The fact that the biggest and wealthiest tour operators were vehemently opposed to it tells you that they were really worried about the competition such a move would have entailed. I can safely say that if the tariffs were liberalized more money earned from tourist arrivals would have trickled down to the grass roots.

    The noise the tour operators made about it affecting the environment and our Bhutanese way of life adversely is a load of bull. I don’t think anyone believes that the tour operators are genuinely concerned about the environment etc, all they truly care about is their fat back balances.

    As for outside things influencing us, everything Indian is and will continue to influence us far more than a group of backpackers would have.

    I think the DPT government lost a golden opportunity to do something good.

  7. guardian says

    Frankly, whats the use of having such a poll which means absolutely nothing. If it is the OLs way of getting back at the PM, then maybe it does serve a purpose.

    As for the TCB, I suspect that they genuinely believed that liberalizing the tourist tariff was the way forward and that changing the status quo would have benefited a larger section of our people.

  8. If they really wanted to listen, they should have held a national referendum. Just because 200 tour operators does not agree with the proposal, does not mean the whole country doesn’t. 200 tour operators does not represent 670,000 Bhutanese.

  9. I still believe the ‘stakeholder’ in this case TCB is also the expert which should have advised the government on issuing the order and should have participated during the consultation process i.e. from the beginning. Despite the polls, I believe TCB is to be blamed.

  10. The government and the OL effectively managed to subbotage one major policy reform through liberalisation of tariff that could have really made a difference to the industry. In trying to protect the intrerest of a few well-established tour operators, they have overlooked the fact that tourism has been flaunted as a major platform for addressing unemployment and poverty issues. With the washed down strategies that are now in place, there is no way the industry will grow and I can guarantee that all this crap about increasing tourist numbers to 100,000 will remain just that – pure paper crap. The important questions as far as I am concerned are the following:

    1. Did McKenzie and the TCB put up a half-baked recommendation to liberalise the tarriff? If they have done a good analytical job, they should stick to their guns and take a stand.
    2. Did the government chicken out from taking a bold decision and in the process contradicted its own executive order?

    If this is the trend in making policy (i.e. yielding to pressure groups), then I am afraid we will end up with 101 policies that do not address the needs of the country as a whole.

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