Just shameful

Games people play

The government was caught off guard when the National Assembly passed the Tax Revision Bill last Wednesday. The Assembly threw out all but one of the proposed taxes. And before the government realized it, their proposals to raise taxes on petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG; refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners; meat, fish and eggs; silk fabric, furniture and power chainsaws; and alcohol were emphatically rejected by the National Assembly.

The only tax to get through was the “green tax” on new vehicles. But that too suffered a huge setback: the proposed 40% green tax on vehicles (with engines equal to or bigger than 1800 cc) was reduced by half, to 20%; and a 5% green tax, which the government had not proposed, was slapped on small vehicles.

On Thursday, the day after the Bill was passed, the government informed the Assembly that, when they voted on the Bill, they had understood that their proposal to increase taxes on alcohol had been accepted. They were wrong. The only tax that the Assembly approved, it turns out, was the green tax on vehicles.

The government should be ashamed. They should be ashamed for not paying attention in the National Assembly. I had, in fact, tried to notify the Assembly that we had not discussed the Tax Revision Bill properly, in detail, and that, more importantly, we were not clear on what we were voting on. But the government, at that time, chose to remain silent. They chose to take the Assembly for granted. And they should be ashamed.

But the government should be ashamed for a bigger and much more important reason. They should be ashamed that the Assembly rejected almost every proposal in the Tax Revision Bill. Of the government’s many proposals, the Assembly passed just one – to levy a green tax on vehicles – and that too was watered down drastically.

The government has failed to persuade the National Assembly that the proposed taxes are necessary. And the government has failed to convince the Assembly that the proposed taxes are good for our country and good for our people. In other words, the government does not enjoy the confidence of the National Assembly. And that, for a government that commands an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly, is just shameful.


Photo credit: Kuensel


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  1. bugamsisi says

    The MPs including yourself should be ashamed for being equally irresponsible. Who will be hurt by this incompetence? You, me and every one in this country. Truely, I too am ashamed by this total lack of responsibility by the NA at a time when we are going through troubled times times like this.Says a lot about the quality of the speaker!

  2. thendrel says

    You should be ashamed too of bringing down every proposal to levy taxes and get closer to the realization of self reliant vision of our king.

    Just spending your time cycling ,writing some half baked articles on a blog ,opposing every proposal of the government and rejoicing in every mishap that happens in the country if such mishaps could be blamed to the goverment is not the ToR of an opposition party

  3. thendrel says

    You should be ashamed too of bringing down every proposal to levy taxes and get closer to the realization of self reliance vision of our kings.

    Just spending your time cycling ,writing some half baked articles on a blog ,opposing every proposal of the government and rejoicing in every wrong thing that happens in the country if somehow such mishaps could be blamed to the goverment are not the deliverables of an opposition party.

  4. What is there to be ashamed of? Some laws will be aproved while some will not be. That’s the beauty of democracy. It was a real shame when your party heavily lost the 2008 elections and it will be even more shameful if same thing repeats next year.

  5. Government is playing to the tune of up-coming election; watering down vehicle tax revision is a cheap stunt to advocate populist measure, notwithstanding huge cost of pollution and worsening of economic situation of the country. Some say, it is a trick politicians play when election is nearing. Politicians are never serious about future of Bhutan; if this is their concern, then hard decision like levying higher tax for polluting and non-essential items is long overdue. I am saddened rather than ashamed of NA decision. NA members have lost moral authority on ensuring clean environment and sound fiscal measures in the present circumstances.

  6. this is an obvious result of having the world’s smallest opposition! DPT is tryna rule as much as they can when it comes to legislation for they have the majority in NA. The speaker doesnt seem to care if he is acting beyond the speaker’s Act! …… its like jimba, JYT or the cabinet dictating his every move.
    how in the world did he think of deciding on the alcohol tax when the entire house was against it? and the next day he claims it was just a suggestion.
    another incapable joker is the finance minister. He wasnt in a position to submit a clear cut conclusion on the tax bill when he was asked to.
    out of confusion, the opposition and another MP tries to seek clarification but the speaker says ‘no more discussions’ when no one observed an effective discussion at all.
    i appreciate you (OL) for reminding …… about a speaker’s duty!!!
    tax bill is an important that concerns every citizen and the NA seems to be taking everything for granted. this shall not work with us.
    at one moment i realy doubted if i was watching an assembly session! ! !
    if the house is not ashamed.. i am ashamed to have such members in the parliament. The speaker in particular- ….
    all we can do is sit and watch now. the bill shall come back to NA son.

  7. you get what you deserve..almost 70% of the bhutanese voted dpt in the elections..the rest 30% have to put up with decisions this bunch of idiots make..because of democracy..
    it could have been tolerable if this bunch really had national interests at heart as opposed to personal greed, hypocrisy, arrogance & incompetence that they have exhibited all this while..it is no wonder numerous political parties are in the making..almost everyone is disillusioned by the government & mps..
    as for the above drama – what can you expect..the speaker has difficulty with dzongkha & his english is not his forte..the only area he is good at is incompetence..it’s embarrassing that bhutan has such people holding public office, professionally inept & morally questionable..prime minister, chief justice, speaker & ministers all tainted with gyepzhing land grab to name one incident..

  8. Citizen of Bhutan says

    As of my personal opinion, its fine. Will pay the tax as per the government decision, but I will see of government repairs my leg to the best if any accident should come to it.

    Also thanks for this situations.

  9. Shameful of a different kind!!!

    Whenever important decisions are taken, we never pay attention – only complain later on. Take for example the Tobacco Control Act of 2010. Now the politicians want power over kidu land – I thinks that’s going too far! Am deeply concerned.

    I hope this time we are not going to just sit back and allow this to happen.

    Politicians, for years on His Majesty the King entrusted them with great power. Now they want to give kidu land. Very shameful!

  10. All MPs are bloodsuckers of the country’s money. All they care about is their own benefits, salary, allowances, demanding prestige etc, if ever these MPs come to my office after resignation, I will shoo them away. The leeches of the country.

  11. What a disgrace..as pointd out if the Government cannot convince the Assembly then what do we have? We r alys 4 the ride..last year there was 5% tax on light cars..this out of nowhere another 5% slaped..why? I dun understand our government, reali disgraceful… Why dun we go 4 the early dissolution of the government..can’t we?

  12. dhendhup says

    The tax bill and the funny resolution of taxes at the NA is surely for gaining political mileage for the next round of election. Speaker trying to make all alcoholics happy by shunning down the tax on alcohol when more than 70 % members supported on the proposed taxation for alcohol. Other MP’s who were against tax for other items are those with cow dung in their head. They do not know the abc’s of economic growth and only trying to make few uneducated people happy with a hope of getting few more votes as those MP’s were all in danger zone now.
    Reducing green tax for vehicles to 20 & 5 % is stupid idea when the IC crunch and the environmental pollution were contributed from the exorbitant import of vehicles. The green tax for luxury vehicles should be kept at 40% which is also actually less, and the green tax for all other vehicles should be at least kept at 20% if the government is really serious and concerned about the IC crunch issue and the environmental problem. I just hope that the NC deliberate on this topic with far better vision and substance.

  13. Rather all MPs including OL should be ashamed for making irresponsible decision….Government is not going to lose but the people of this country and obviously few will enjoy….It is time that we put our personal interest behind and think for the nation……

  14. TORISE DRAGON says

    To every one who commented, i respect your words and do not accept some others too. because as a bhutanese i assure every one watch live assembly and just want to ask that did you ever saw the opposition having relative power same like that of the ruling govt????? BIG NO!!! Its not the fault of OPPOSITION leader.but the wrong pride of ruling party.they feel they can do what ever with the country and can play any politics.suppose you are one among the others who is going to pay TAX now.do you feel good to paY tax when you never had to before? i guess to pay 20% for above 1800cc and 5% for below 1800cc is equal,theres no difference and i guess now u may react. but if you are a big earner you wont give a shit. coz you are not intrested to comment. but be clear that its not oppositions fault despite the power that DPT pushes over the limit. inorder to have better govt n opposition beter think time and again n VOTE next time.

  15. Our economy has been hit by the rupee crisis and many are still suffering from this consequences. On the fiscal front our government did not do enough to tackle this issue, rather they brought few experts to bull doze the bhutanese approach. They left this problem to central bank alone which cannot be solved.

    This shows our MPs are less concerned of what is happening in the economy. I understand they will bark lot if it was something about power and benefits. Not taxing on alcohol was total non-sense.
    Regretfully these MPs will lead us no where and hopefully 2013 is not far.

  16. the house failed to discuss on the expected results of a tax hike in a country like ours. the results could be positive in way that we could curb the inr shortfall to an extent. the question is upto what extent? by what margin? the results could be negative in a way that poor ppl will be the ultimate sufferer. this could have made a better debate instead of the speaker moderating and passing hollow comments on a senseless assembly discussion.
    taxes on excavators and earthmoving equipment was not at all included in the draft tax bill. greedy MPs who own such machines, leased out to projects plan to buy more of it and hence pointed it out as an essential item. They had the audacity to propose no tax on it and pass it in assembly.
    discussions on tax bill this time has sent diff messages to diff ppl. some say the govt intentionally put forward unreasonable tax hike to have it slammed by the NA members who also is the govt anyway. ‘this is a political strategy, masterplanned and executed by the DPT members’, they say. pretending to protect poor people from taxes. when the attack is launched by the same party, it is surprising to see that the protection too is provided by the same party.
    its about time we ask ourselves if we should just sit and watch or do something about it. there should be a way out.

  17. I think the lack of support for the tax proposals from the Government was a Mis-Management issue and a display of autocracy within DPT. There were probably no consultations with the party!!

    Sad display of the lack of democracy with the Party!

    Bhutanese Political parties have a lot of Maturity to strive for. Democracy is about consensus building, there is obviously a huge lack of it.

  18. Just Asking says

    Nothing to be ashamed.

    I think our honorable MPs are finally waking up. They realise they are also elected like the ministers and they don’t have to take so much shit.

    Not on the election year.

  19. In a parliamentary democracy, everything a govt does or what an MP says IS POLITICS and nothing more…….usually they SAY what they don’t mean and they DO what they don’t say……..

  20. The assembly decided to either designate or appoint a protection officer. This would leave room to appoint officer where necessary, and designate local government officers in places, where appointment was not required.

  21. Could the Tax Bill Proposal in the recent NA have been a staged performance?

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