Conflict of Interest in Education City

The wife of the former Education Minister buying land near the Education City site through a loan taken by the former Education Minister may not be illegal, but it does represent an enormous conflict of interest.

The Education Ministry is one of the key stakeholders in the multi-billion Education City project, and has the responsibility to get in the foreign educational institute tie up for the City, and also plays a regulatory role in the education content and quality of the institutes to be placed in the City.

The Education Minister, both as head of his ministry and also as a Cabinet Minister would, therefore, gain privileged information and prior knowledge about the project and location of the Education City site.

Therefore, the wife of the former minister buying land near the site raises questions, not just ethical questions, but also questions on the role played by the Education Ministry in the project.  First question being, how effectively would a minister, whose wife owns land right next to the Education City site, be able to play the role of an objective stakeholder in the project?

It is also interesting to note that during one of the political debates on the national television, the former Education Minister, without even batting an eyelid, denied he or any other ministers owned land near the Education City site.

The former Education Minister’s wife is not the sole landowner near the site of the Education City. The former MoWHS Minister and Education City Board Chairman Yeshey Zimba’s wife has 14 acres of ancestral property on a hill side directly opposite to the 1,000 acre project.

The Education Secretary Sangay Zam has around 2.70 acres of ancestral land also directly opposite the Education City.

The Former Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinely also owns 7 acres land opposite the Education City project bought in the 1980’s.

The Former Speaker owns 7 acres of land bought in 1978 near a village next to the Education City.

In all the above cases, except for the former Education Minister, it is true that the land is either inherited ancestral property or has been bought much before the project was even conceived of.

However, it is also true that, except for the former Speaker, all of the above landowners would have had an important say in approving the project, approving government expenditure for it, and approval of the site. These individuals and the agencies they represent have also played an important role in coming up with various other financial and regulatory aspects of the bill.

It is also true that the current site was not the only option, and there were other sites that could have hosted the Education City.

Given the serious concerns on the viability and scale of such a project, the government also had a clear option of rejecting the whole idea of such a large scale venture.

Also given the size and scope of the project and its equal distance from useable private land in Thimphu and Paro, the private land value in the surrounding areas are increasing, and is expected to go up even higher once the project is complete.

There have been serious questions and concerns on the conflict of interest over the project, with the project initially being proposed and promoted by the former Prime Minister’s nephew and son, and both are working with the project now.

It is a fact that in a midst of the Rupee and Credit Crisis, when the government was slashing expenditure everywhere, the same government allocated around Nu 470 mn to be spent over the next three years in providing facilities for the project. This is above the 1,000 acres of land already leased to the project.

Though there are serious issues over the viability of the project, with minimal interest shown in the project so far, this leads one to question the final outcome of a project that is now under construction.

With all the facts made available, it is not for this paper to pronounce any judgment, but for the readers to decide and draw to their own conclusion.

 

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” 
Mahatma Gandhi

 

Tenzing Lamsang

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. I am simply shocked at this corruption episode. The Minister of Education is person whom every Bhutanese student should look up to, tthe Prime Minister for every other citizen. What kind of examples have these guys shown? They are a disgrace to the nation!

    • I am shocked!!!!! till yesterday i had decided to vote for Mr. TS Powdyel as m from his constituency…but now i will not..i will vote for PDP(Mr. Subba). always thought this ex-education minister is a man of high integrity but no more…he is nothing than a real hypocrite..and greedy…! i watched his Common Forum…there he said clearly ” neither he nor his wife owned land at the site” …but today he is exposed of the real truth!..only the fools will vote for such a liar!.. i will never ever respect this man again!…corrupt minded!..

  2. Ex-Education minister is a big lier ….. i have never expected such type of word from him … that too on a national television that too live ….i never expected that he will lie like that ….must be they are following the foot steps of the PM who started tellng lies to the people ….so sad to see such type of people in the History of education ministry …. also what a surprised to see a name of ex.PM involving in education city,shameful to you being a leader of Bhutan…..former speaker not satisfied with your gyelposhing case n again you have involved in this case also…..whereever case is there jigme tsheltrim engaged…..what kind of leader i have choosen it….really regrated for voting to DPT govt..

  3. I have lost all the little faith i had in T S Powdyel. His nature is reflected. I was almost confused seeing the way powdyel did not comment on the question pertaining to he holding land asset in the Edn. City, asked by his student-opponent TB Subba in common forum in samtse. TS Powdyel, instead, camouflaged his sadness on being questioned by him. Shakespeare was right when he said a serpent may live under the rose.
    Powdyel lied the Samtsean ears saying he had no time to make money. He could he atleast told us the fact. His intestines are angry: the tenzin lamsang method proves it.

    And about the education city, now. We did not have silver nitrate(costing abt 14000 a bottle) to practise pratical chemistry in my school. We did extemporanousvpractical in the BCSEA. How can our govt run colleges. DPT, don’t lie. Or else, the tremor with us may turn out to be an earthquake.

    DPTeans, nation cannot build for you cities. We have people who dont have a house to be protected from rain and sun, we ….go to hell!

  4. this_is_just_dirty_politics

    Phallus…if you remember, the PDP candidate asked ex-education minister if he had taken land from education city…do you expect the ex-minister to say he took government land when he didn’t? His wife is currently in the process of buying land, the transfer is not yet done even.
    Why does everyone grudge him the small piece of land which he tried to buy with loan?
    And Education City project is not a secret known only to DPT govt. It was planned and initiated by DHI much beforehand.
    Tenzin lamsang should check if PDP members and DHI employees have any land holdings around the area too.

    The site was recommended by DHI infact, as mentioned in the article.
    So much ado over nothing. If there was really any wrongdoing, do you think ACC would not do something?

  5. It may be true that former education minister’s wife bought land near the Education city. How does this result in conflict of interest? Conflict of interest cannot be relevant in the following ways. I do not think that TP was able to make the move for education city just because of 50 decimals of land he purchased near by. Perhaps he bought after the project was finalised or was alreary in advanced stage. Bhutan is a small country and everyone is related to one another. In that case there will be conflict of interest with everyone. Why was the education city built in Thimphu and not in Dorokha where he could have earned millions. If the Education city was selected in Thimphu then everyone having land in Thimphu has conflict of interest…. There were many committee members who could have objected in the meeting. TP did not have absolute power to decide everything and lead the project to the site where he purchased 0.5 acres of land. It is ridiculous. had the located been selected in Bumthang or any other place, then another Minister would have been in conflict of interest. This is because all Ministers have land in all the Districts. So it is wrong to see everything from the negative view. In most of the articles I have found looking through the negative lens. It is wrong to presume that all the readers of the articles are too foolish to believe in everything that is written. So please write in a balanced manner to have more readers.

  6. I wish i had some ancestral land at sisina. My near worthless land would be worth hundreds of thousands now. 

  7. It is a clear case of conflict of interest and if such development remains unchecked it will become potential threat to soceity at large.

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