DHI and us

Kuensel quietly carried a corrigendum today clarifying that DHI had not given iPhones to the PM and the cabinet. And in it, the editor helpfully points out that: “Officials from the PM’s office, meanwhile, said the reference was to an occasion that happened in 2009.”

The corrigendum is helpful. But it is quiet. Too quiet.

Kuensel must now ask the PM – not “officials from the PM’s office”, but the PM himself – why he did not clarify that he was talking about something that took place almost three years ago, and why he misinformed the public about DHI giving iPhones.

The PM could have easily told the truth and put the iPhone rumour to rest. Instead, he chose to sensationalize it, and, in doing so, planted serious doubts about DHI’s credibility. For that, he owes the public an explanation. And he owes DHI an apology.

This is not the first time the government has raised questions about DHI. On several occasions already, MPs from the ruling party have expressed concern and objected to how DHI is run and how their employees are paid. The government complained about and succeeded in revising the Royal Charter. And during the very press conference which featured the iPhone controversy recently, the finance minister protested that “the government has little say in the functioning of DHI since it is governed by the Royal Charter which gives absolute power to its board directors.”

Added to that, unknown agents continue to fuel stories about DHI being run as a “parallel government”.

DHI was established in 2007, the year before our first elections, as the custodian of our nation’s wealth. The idea was to separate the investment and executive arms of the Royal Government. That idea is still relevant: politicians, now and in the future, cannot be trusted to manage and expand the commercial investments of the Royal Government in a manner that is prudent and sustainable. And that’s why DHI was established as an autonomous organization incorporated under the Companies Act.

But that does not mean that DHI can do anything it pleases or that the government has absolutely no control over the organization. DHI’s performance targets, including how much money they must earn for the exchequer, are fixed together with the government. And, more importantly, most of the members of DHI’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the board of directors are appointed, directly or indirectly, by the government. In addition, their operations are audited by the Royal Audit Authority to ensure prudent and effective use of the people’s resources.

These checks and balances are important. And we must use them to address concerns about salaries, perks, recruitment or any other issue that we may have. But otherwise, we should not undermine the functioning of DHI. And we must not make unmerited attacks on its image. The company is simply too important for the current and future wellbeing of our people.

How important is DHI? The company is already worth more than Nu 45 billion. That works out to about 60% of our national GDP. And last year, the company contributed Nu 4.3 billion in taxes and dividends to the government. That works out to more than a quarter of the government’s domestic revenue.

But DHI is barely four years old. So we can expect them to make some mistakes. When they do, we need to work together, constructively and within the legal framework, to correct them. Otherwise, we should support them – our wealth, and that of our future generations, is at stake.

 

Facebook Comments:

Comments

  1. so, u want government to fulfil promises and be accountable for all development activities but can’t have say over state resources? it was reported in some newspaper that lone representative from gov, finance secretary is most of the time voted out…it becomes check and balance when there is equal say!….The intention was good but it is somehow getting wrong somewhere in implementation….paying hefty sum to their own employees, recruiting countless consultants at the cost of state resources, unwarranted interference to functioning of corporates are few things which need to be corrected….There should be clear cut role and responsibilities between dhi and individual board of the concerned company…at times, it happens that board decides certain issue but overruled by dhi…it results in waste of time and money ….If politician can’t be trusted, then ,where is the guarantee that people in dhi can be trusted as well? Aren’t both human and subject to same kind of greed?….don’t government have enough check and balance through constitutional bodies like RAA, ACC, and more than anything, accountable to the people…if they are not trustworthy, we can always vote them out but can we do that to people in dhi?….whatever it is, at the end, both government and dhi should work together with close consultation and coordination…just personal thought.

  2. so, maybe both dhi & pm are wrong..pm for not being specific perhaps intentionally, with underlying power grabbing & turf protection..
    dhi is wrong because they should never make such offers, even if it was in 2009..if they choose, they should instead donate to lhalhangs, educational institutes or some other charitable cause..making presnts to those that have more than enough should be looked at with suspicion, disgust & condemnation..
    this is exactly the practice we should move away from..that dhi as an institution engages in such offers is sad..as an institution, they should instead promote & lead by example professionalism & merit, not sycophancy & ass-kissing culture..
    it’s good the media highlight such practices..
    btw, how about something on the notorious quota-quota handed out by wangdi norbu & this government to dpt colleagues???

  3. Straight drive says:

    honourable OL,
    i think you need to understand it little deeper. DHI is the main revenue generator for the country and the ruling should not only worry but even need to interfere in its working. some decisions taken by dhi at the moment like raising salary for its employees, giving unnecessary gifts to Mps, hiring so many consultants, not adhering to gornment’s advice etc. are not palatable even to most general public.

  4. Now, the matter is rested with correction from the media; and i hope henceforth, media or anybody with conscience should be very careful when commenting in public forum. Bhutan is so small to be disturbed and torn apart. Instead, we should channel our energy into making this small beautiful country as harmonies as possible; this does not mean that we should not point out mistakes whenever they are made by all concerned government, private companies or individuals, however; but any fact finding or criticism must be constructive and truthful.

    I believe in basic goodness of human being, but at times, humans are tempted to make mistakes and indulge in unnecessary controversial issues.

    Cheers

  5. Dear OL,

    It is amazing how DHI keeps quite even when the Govt. publicly goes on and on complaining about DHI’s functions.

    It is amazing how every time Govt. meets the press or has a hardtalk on BBS, after always discussing about Govt. related issues the matter has to END with DHI.

    It is amazing to also know that the Govt. revised the royal charter and still Govt. continues to claim it has no control over DHI

    AND it is absolutely amazing how people don’t see the dimensions beneath all of this.

    Cheers

  6. The thing is DHI does not make any money, Druk Green has been making money before DHI and it will make money on its own without DHI.

    DHI should prove it can make money by investing in new companies, not taking money from already profitable companies and claiming it as their own.

    As for the iphone, whether it was 2009 or 2011, they still tried to gift iphones, especially after the leather bag incident.

  7. I think the press need to be more careful on what they write, and also the Govt. should see that detail study is done before making such comments to the public.

    We the public, are here to know the truth, and if there is problem between Govt. and DHI, please settle it within yourself and give us the right information. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO IT.

    Media,has become a joke and a battle field for all, and many of the people.. or should i say.. all .. are taking the advantage of this. Media need to buckle up and act professionally and not as a puppet. WRITE WHAT IS RIGHT, AND INFORMATIVE TO THE PEOPLE OF BHUTAN.

    Coming back to Govt. and DHI, this fight is going on from 2008, and on the same topics.. well now.. we the public is also fed up with the same topics.. rather.. it would be better to see what action is been taken to solve these topics. Both need to give the result of their debate, rather than backbiting on each other.

  8. i-messesge says:

    Hon’ble OL,
    Thank you for clarification on DHI and its mandates. I am now with you. With permission from Hon’ble OL, I would like to clarify some which I have learnt from DHI Charter.
    Jigs, you may like to read the DHI Royal Charter at the following website: http://www.dhi.bt/index.php/downloads/cat_view/10-royal-charter-for-dhi
    In the charter, it clearly mentioned that there are two government representatives in the board of DHI. So, I am pretty sure, a lone government representative as you claim, is incorrect. Also, if you see RC further, you can find the Board appointments are made by Blue Ribbon Panel consisting of all government secretaries.
    Therefore, please make little effort to enlighten yourself.
    Thank you,

  9. “In the interest of unity and harmony, I have always encouraged close consultation and cooperation between different branches and agencies of government; between institutions and the public; and among our people themselves. Bhutan is a small country so we must always seek ways to sit together, face to face in the spirit of brotherhood and with unity of purpose, to resolve all issues. We must take advantage of our strength as a small close-knit society. The submissions made by the Prime Minister on behalf of so many important institutions, reflects this approach of cooperation and consultation. I am very proud and happy to say that this is good democracy at work.”

  10. Honouable OL,

    In my opinion, i don`t think DHI has contributed Nu. 4.3 billion last year as taxes and dividends. Rather i would say it was contributed by the subsidairy companies of DHI.

  11. It does seem that DHI has gifted mobile phones to the cabinet ministers way back in 2009 (Not sure weather it is I-phone or some other brand like some one mentioned Nokia). I don’t understand why does DHI have to give phones to the cabinet ministers!
    Coming to Govt. having no say in the functioning of DHI is wrong and misleading the public. The Blue Ribbon panel is the ultimate authority on DHI and from the revised Royal Chatter the following are the members of the Blue Ribbon Panel:

    1. Chairperson, RCSC
    2. Chairperson, DHI
    3. Secretary, MoF
    4. Secretary, MoEA
    5. Governor, RMA

    So how do you think the Government is out voted from the above at least two representatives are from the Government (MoF and MoEA Secretary).

    Even if we look at the board director composition of DHI there are two Government Secretaries on the board i.e. MoF and MoWHS. I don’t think Govt. is voted out all the time …..

  12. People who vent most against the DHI are people who were not selected for DHI vacancies. Am sure Jigs is one of the unselected and unqualified aspirants.

  13. haha….sonam….i can just laugh at u! what is so great about being in being dhi?…..u really sounds pathetic!….hope u r not one of those analysts!…i know they have much more reasoning than u…

  14. Why does DHI have to give gifts to MPs? Why do they need to bribe the MPs? If a company like DHI resort to bribing, then there is a serious question on the credibility of the company.

    What happened to those leather bags that were returned by the MPs in 2009? How did they account for the money paid to buy those bags? Were they gifted to another group of decision makers? Or did DHI made the best out of them themselves?

    If the politicians cannot be trusted to manage the commercial investments of the Royal Government, is DHI faithful enough?

    If we mend the holes from one side of the bag only to drill another one from the other side, what the heck then?

    To me the whole business of DHI sound fishy. Somebody frets and DHI collects money. Collectors never are faithful. We boast of hydropower – we can only hope the revenue generated goes back to the people.

  15. Your country is so small and beautiful and sweet that it will be sad to see it divide due to little petty things like these, which are bound to happen in every young democracy. You should count yourselves lucky to be Bhutanese. However, it important to hold your leaders accountable for their actions and decisions unless the consequences in the future will be bad. Most African countries are where there are now due to corrupt officials that were never held accountable for their actions.

  16. I went to BBS last night to witness the debate or discussion on DHI and govt affecting issues like iphones, salaries etc.
    Its weird that the people who shout about DHI like MPs, Civil Servents, Ministers, Kuensel are not present there to present their point of view. I think its a mud throwing, that to without shoeing their faces. Its shame and its a coward act. It was a awesome platform for people from all walks of life to present their concerns and doubts at BBS before the whole nation.
    Well, DHI being the government arm to invest and keep track on government owned companies, I think they should be paid higher than the civil servents. If tomorrow, DHI runs in loss, than who will be responsible to provide free education, health care or so many promises that DPT govt made to public. To handle the wealth creating campaines of nation needs a strong, healthy, competitive and competent employees. To retain them they need to be paid well..
    Thats it!!

  17. What was the principal motive when the Royal Charter for DHI was first drafted? It was drafted with the negative intentions, it started with creating the bad image of the government, it did not want to give government the national resources? Why such intentions? Politics in Bhutan had already been portrayed as corrupted right from the beginning, otherwise why such a move by DHI?
    People who were involved in drafting the charter should be tried and questioned.

  18. Local, don’t talk rubbish, the companies under DHI were there much before DHI was established. It was not that they started contributing to the national exchequer only after DHI was formed.

  19. Jarodongchen says:

    Dear OL,

    I would like to draw your attention to your follow:

    “DHI was established in 2007, the year before our first elections, as the custodian of our nation’s wealth. The idea was to separate the investment and executive arms of the Royal Government. That idea is still relevant: politicians, now and in the future, cannot be trusted to manage and expand the commercial investments of the Royal Government in a manner that is prudent and sustainable. And that’s why DHI was established as an autonomous organization incorporated under the Companies Act.”

    On the one hand, if we cannot trust the democratically elected representatives of the people (the politicians), who can we trust? On the other hand, if we do not have faith in the maturity and wisdom of the people of Bhutan to elect responsible and trust worthy people, then why entrust them with the power and the right of self determination? If you are going to depart on the premise that the Bhutanese people will be stupid enough to exercise their franchise in an uneducated and irresponsible way, why democratize at all?

    I accept that there must be a check and balance mechanism in place, to ensure that public resources are not squandered away. But does that have to apply only to the elected politicians? What about the abuse caused by the DHI officers? Isn’t the public outcry based on the apparent abuse that is being perpetrated by the DHI officials, under the authority of the Royal Charter? Talking of which, where does the Royal Charter give these officers the immunity from scrutiny by the government that is actually the real owner of all the companies under the DHI? Where does the Royal Charter empower the DHI to act and function outside the ambit of the government?

    Finally, there is one question the people of Bhutan must truthfully answer: Can it be said that the present lot of DHI officers are better experienced and qualified than those that comprise the current Lhengey Zhungtshog? If not, then don’t you think that the country’s wealth has been placed in the wrong hands?

  20. Jarongchen,

    The OL is blind to the flaws within DHI, when many instances of DHI’s wrongdoings have been exposed, he has always been tight lipped. Small wonder that even now he thinks that DHI is doing a great job!

  21. OL,

    I don’t buy your idea of saying that Civil Servants and Corporate world be treated differently. You claim that remuneration of corporates should be compared with private sector for competition. If so, then civil servants should be compared with civil servants in other developed countries such as Singapore for better service delivery. If there is no good public service delivery, so called corporate world will be parallyzed.

  22. Dear OL,
    It seems u r jealous to the current govt.To my perception government should have say in all the matters pertaining to the people.And DHI is for the people and as stated earlier if some people do whatever they like(increasing salaries,gifting iphones,bags etc)in the name of Royal charter, this is completely wrong and a blatant corruption.
    And also i have watched you speak regarding issues on DHI during the recent panel discussion and i was disheartened to see you speak biased to DHI.
    I think in this case u should also speak for the people along with the government.Without the companies,DHI is just a mere institution.
    I also see that in case of DHI haves are given more and lessers are being neglected.One for sure is if this trend goes, one day a DHI driver will earn a salary of P3 officers in govt and corporate sectors because if they r not paid, the experienced people will go out saying that there is no good drivers.
    One and all..i am just sick of this DHI issues.

  23. I was quite suprised to hear OL’s comment in the BBS Talkshow, “there should not be comparision on salaries between the civil servants and the Corporate employess”.

    To my understanding, when civil servants are underpaid, the responsibilities are not undertaken with dedication thereby affecting the required outputs. As such, many public services needed to be outsourced or established in corporate mechanisms, wasting additional resources. Should civil servants be paid adequately, many activities currently undertaken by coprorations can definitely be catered as part of the civil service.

    Therefore, it is ultimately the renumeration that governs the effectiveness and efficiency of services. The salary comaprision therefore is necessary and important.

    OL’s comment was directly translating that DHI’s Corporate employees can do much better than civil servants, therefore the higher payment…!

  24. Hon’ble OL,
    I have not watched the TV show that day but a lot of people say that you were really supporting DHI employees and not the civil servants. I think is a wrong move before the elections. Remember 2008 when your party blamed the civil servants for DPT’s landslide victory. I hope it does not repeat again. Anyway cheers!

  25. Dont worry OL there woukd always exist hves and havs not but u have to trade off sometime for the good cause.

  26. Tenzin Penjore says:

    I agree. do we trust dhi fully and not trust our elected government?

  27. Please someone give us information for 2010

    Total earnings of all corporations under DHI ———–

    Total spent on DHI office rentals
    total DHI salaries, allowances
    total of all other recurring costs
    total spent on consultants
    total submitted to RGoB as revenue

    Others may like to add to my list of required info.

    Then we can decide on whether DHI is fulfilling HMs wishes or not and whether they deserve our praises or our criticisms? Without knowing the above we are just shouting in the dark.

Leave a Reply