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.



The Scapegoat

The Tourism Council of Bhutan, it seems, has been made the scapegoat for spearheading the Government’s policy to liberalize tourist tariffs. Several of the people who attended last Wednesday’s meeting with the PM blamed TCB for not having consulted the stakeholders sufficiently, and for not having briefed our head of government properly.

But was it really mainly TCB’s fault? Or were they, in fact, merely trying their best, as civil servants, to obey the Executive Order, signed by the PM, of their political masters of the day? And was it McKinsey who, in reality, sold the idea, directly to the PM, without consulting enough stakeholders in the tourism sector?

Our poll asks who should be held accountable for trying to liberalize tourist tariffs.