Dropping down the list

I wonder if Dasho Karma Ura, Sonam Gyamtsho,  Lyonchhen Jigme Yoser Thinley, Dr Saamdu Chettri happened to catch this article, ‘Bhutan drops six places in business ease index’, and the overwhelming implications it has for Bhutan or the Bhutanese people.  The irony and paradox of this article appearing just a few short days after receiving the news of Bhutan’s failed bid to secure a seat on the UN Security council is palpable.

To fall six places on an internationally regarded measure of business practices at precisely the time when these and other intellectual, political,  thought leaders are out trumpeting the virtues and values of GNH speaks volumes about the disconnect between their perceptions and the cold hard realities confronting most Bhutanese people.  Incidentally, and to be fair, this measure has nothing or relatively little to do with GNH or GDP save for the fact that one would hope that the pursuit of GNH would lead Bhutan to be moving up rather than down on this index.  In short, it is yet another indicator that despite all “official proclamations” to the contrary and despite all the rhetoric being promulgated by far too many in power, Bhutan is not trending toward the hope and promise of either GNH or GDP.

Growing the private sector, promoting entrepreneurial thinking, and supporting the development of homegrown small to midsize businesses in everything from producing goods to rendering services is  where leaders at levels in the Bhutanese political-educational complex should be devoting their time and attention.  Instead of running off to New York, Brazil and points around the globe promoting GNH and bidding for “seats”/”acclaims” from the world community,  it’s high time the people of Bhutan demand that their political leaders stay home and focus on the real needs and issues of the Bhutanese people.

Reports of this nature are proof positive that real reform is necessary in everything from the way business is taught to the way business is practiced in Bhutan.  However, few things could be more beneficial to the average person on the streets of Bhutan than for the world in general and the world business sector particular to view this nation as place that is both easy and inviting to do business.  More importantly the reliance and dependence on issues related to the Rupee would fall dramatically to the extent that other nations began setting up operations and trading more vigorously with Bhutan.

Rather than seen as bad news, which it is, a report like this could and should spur serious conversations about the real and viable routes to move Bhutan forward.  It’s time for political and educational leaders in Bhutan to start talking, teaching and addressing the pragmatic issues of “micro-economic policy implementation” not ethereal and largely untested notions like GNH.  Perhaps instead of pursuing “happiness” the new mantra could be what’s good for Bhutanese Business will be good for the Bhutanese. I hope to see Bhutan moving up the rankings the next time this report is issued.

By Dr David Luechauer  

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7 comments

  1. What to do. This govt’s disconnect from reality is terminal. Anybody pointing out contrary views is biased. Yes we should be promoting small businesses on a wide scale. In reality the opposite is happening. Large businesses (steel, coal, and other FDI) somehow get VIP treatment even without proper procedures laid out. the Education City even received a red carpet reception with its own brand new Act.

    All the while, small businesses are hassled by the petty trade officers checking for ‘compliance’ with their petty little rules. Year end blues begin when the tax collectors show up with distrust written all over their faces. Crooks All! seems to be their attitude. License renewal is a pain in the neck for a paperwork they could simply dispose of, but failure to renew would bring any business crashing down.

    All businesses must have a physical ‘establishment’ to prove legitimacy with investment related to their business. Printers must have proper printing machines. Sellers must have shops, workshops must have workshop and repair equipment. The only exception seems to be the Chinese Bus suppliers who don’t even have an office forget about a parts supply set up or a repair set up. I can already hear the new chinese bus brakes squealing loudly. Taking it to any other repair workshop will only cancel our warranties right?

    Instead of thinking extraordinarily big, like the DPT did, the next government (and I pray we do have a new one), needs to learn and focus on small and medium enterprises. Their success, with their large numbers, will bring much greater prosperity to Bhutan than one or two jokers rolling in money they do not know what to do with, most of it based either on raping our nature or living off the power subsidies.

  2. I think By Dr David Luechauer  is the most unhappiest man ever to visit Bhutan

  3. Dr.David, we don’t know what your hidden agendas are with your series of biased and neo liberal capitalist inclined articles with thought provoking points. Here is to your unrelenting efforts:

    http://www.bhutanobserver.bt/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Anti-GNH-campaign.jpg

  4. The only truth any foreigners have told us is about our pristine natural countryside and culture. That too, they didn’t actually have to tell us because we have always lived in them, with them! The rest have been self serving and ingratiating falsities which our politicos have been devouring them and eventually got played into things we’ll not know what to do with. The McKinsey factor and the Benniger impact are yet to be analyzed.
    So if some one like Dr. David is being brutally honest and truthfully telling us what is ailing us, we should pay heed and do something about rectifying our inherent weaknesses. Truth will hurt us, it will hurt more to those who have been arrogantly been self serving in the name of serving the Tsawa Sum!

    • If we want to be economically independent the best way is to do businesses. Trade and industry. Conducive market places. Export and imports. We like to see and feel development. Sometime we have to think how preaching GNH can help to have sound economy.

      Can anyone justify why rupee crunch in our country is not economic crises in our country. Because we hear from policy makers it’s just rupee shortage and not a big issue. But can practically feel the pinch; especially those who were constructing building has to stop their work. No vehicle imports.

  5. This is to the political party people of all the parties. For the next 5 years after election and declaring the winner and the runner up, let us please clean up the mess lying around the countryside, in various ministries and departments, our towns our schools and colleges. Let us reconstruct our attitude towards GNH and bring it back home. Let us create enabling conditions for the youth to be sent back to farming, growing vegetable, produce cheese, butter and eggs beside grains. They are a menace in towns and let us help them to be self employed, give them land on lease, provide seeds, machines/tools, cows and doc for poultry, horses to ferry tourists and their luggage/equipments. Let’s give ourselves a break from mega projects for which we have to beg for finance. Let’s forget ambitious plans for white elephants like Edu city and the Tech Park. Probably and may be by the end of the next 5 years, we’ll come to terms with ourselves, the realities and set a bench mark for ourselves and not in tune with other countries with big economy. My prayers for all the parties gearing up for the election. Your campaigns on these lines may actually win you the hot seat!

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