Government offices make a beeline for Buildings owned by Ministers and Spouses

Top Building owned by Finance Ministers wife, Lower Left building owned by MoEA Minister’s wife and lower right building owned by Agriculture Minister.
Top Building owned by Finance Ministers wife, Lower Left building owned by MoEA Minister’s wife and lower right building owned by Agriculture Minister.

The Bhutanese has found that buildings owned by some serving Cabinet Ministers and their wives house government offices and corporations paying large amounts of rent. In what is a case of conflict of interest and also violation of procurement norms these office spaces have been hired by the respective agencies and corporations from the ministers and their spouses without following any tendering norms or a transparent and competitive process.

These buildings include one owned by the Finance Minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s wife, a building in the name of the wife of Minister of Economic Affairs Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, a bungalow which is the former residence of Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and a two storied Bungalow owned by the Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.

Though two of the buildings are legally in the name of the spouses of Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk’s , in both cases, tenants and neighbors referred to the buildings as ‘Lyonpo’s buildings’.

A giant six storied building in Changzamtok owned by the Finance Minister’s wife houses two government agencies in the building.

One of them is the Chiphen Rigphel Project(CRP) under the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) occupying the entire ground floor, half the second floor, an additional  flat in second floor and one residential flat room as a guest house for the project.

The CRP offices pay monthly rental charge of about Nu 30,000 for the entire ground floor, Nu 20,000 for half the second floor and 15,000 each for the two apartments which comes to a total of Nu 80,000 per month. The CRP office has occupied the office space for more than a year now.

Also in the same building is the Government to Citizen (G2C) project office which has occupied two flats and makes a monthly payment of Nu 8,500 each coming to Nu 17,000. The office was occupied from 2010.

Both the above organizations neither called for public tenders to house these government organizations nor put up any public notices in the media to this effect. Both the offices directly shifted to the current space.

Until recently the building also housed the Druk Green Power Cooperation office which occupied three flats from 2010 to 2013 February paying a monthly rent for about 17,000 per flat or a total of Nu 51,000 per month and which was increased by 10% a year later.

 

A brand new building in the name of the wife of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Khandu Wangchuk located in Changangkha provides office spaces for both government and private organizations with higher rents for government organizations compared to the private ones.

The office of DGPC, Department of Operation and Maintenance has occupied two flats and pay’s a monthly rent of Nu 20,000 each coming to about Nu 40,000 per month. The office has rented the flats for more than a year now.

However, a private company called NTT construction which has occupied two similar flats is paying a lower rent of Nu 16,000 per month for each flat.

Druk Green Power Corporation’s plans to construct its own office space was put on hold as the government did not allocate it adequate budget to do so.

Another government office called the Construction Development Cooperation Ltd (CDCL) under the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement has rented three units paying Nu 17,500 per month coming to a total of Nu 51,000 per month. The CDCL office which was once in the main town area was shifted to the current building as CDCL officials said that the previous private building lack parking space, office space and was expensive.

The CDCL also has its own land and construction plans to construct its own office but it has been unable to secure the Nu 50 mn budget from the government required for the office space.

The same building is also host to the Secretariat for the New Development Paradigm created by the government to build on Bhutan’s Happiness Resolution in the United Nations. It occupies two offices and pay’s Nu 30,000 per month in total.

Another duplex apartment which was the earlier residence of Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk now houses the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC). The entire duplex rental is Nu 50,000 per month.

Here too, in all the above cases the agencies taking the apartments did not call for public tenders and notifications to offer competitive prices for the lucrative rents being offered by them. The offices were directly shifted into the buildings.

The residence of Agriculture and Forest Minister Dr. Pema Gyamtsho is now an office of DHI-Infra which was rented on a contract basis for two years. The office occupied the residence from 2011 and pay’s Nu 50,000 per month for the entire duplex.  The rent increased to 55,000 after the contract period was over from January this year.

Here too no public tenders and notices were made to allow for competitive bidding.

In stark contrast to the above the Department of Education under the Ministry of Education has not only put up public notices in the media but has also called for tenders from building and house owners to offer space for the department.

As per the governments own Procurement Rules and Regulations of 2009 the rules are there to ensure transparency of Government procurement through the application of standard procurement procedures, achieve uniformity of the procurement procedures, achieve economy and efficiency in the procurement of goods, works and services, and ensure fair and equal access to the suppliers, consultants and contractors for award of contracts for supply of goods, services or works.

The rules also make it very clear that all government agencies have to follow these rules in procuring of goods, services or works.

The rules also say that the government has to provide for open tendering whereby all potential contenders who can give the goods, works and services are sought and given a chance.

An official of one of the above agencies said, “even if we did not tender it out we could have at least put up a notice in the media or public forum and then we would have got the best rates and also the best picks of office space.” With increasing number of new buildings being completed and lesser apartment buyers there are frequent flat vacancy announcements in the media.

The above is also in the context of most building and house owners in Thimphu preferring to rent out space to offices as they offer higher rent and more stable payment than families, use less water and also cause much lesser damage to the utilities.

Currently for some of the government offices in the buildings managed by the spouses of Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk the only government oversight is the Government Procurement and Property Management Division (GPPM) which ensures that rents are not paid way above government rates which are fixed by the Ministry of Finance. The Bhutanese despite enquiring was not given the official government rates but was told that a 10 to 15% increase above the maximum rate was allowed.

A GPPM official, however, made it clear that their only job was to check the rent and measure the office premises once it was selected and it was entirely up to the respective agencies to transparently select them.

The head of the Public Procurement Policy Division, Karma Wangdi under the Ministry of Finance refused to answer or allow any of his officers to answer queries of The Bhutanese on why procurement rules were not followed in such cases.

 

 

 

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53 comments

  1. Though two of the buildings are legally in the name of the spouses of Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s wife and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk’s wife, in both cases, tenants and neighbors referred to the buildings as ‘Lyonpo’s buildings’.– i could not digest this, Does this mean the buildings belong to ‘Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s wife and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk’s wife’ or spouse of ‘Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu’s wife and Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk’s wife’

    • its clearly a typo. but ur version of grammar check is awesome! which version is it? cuz mine jus shows the “instead of meteors all night” helper.
      and just in case u didnt genuinely understand, its in the wive’s names (meaning they legally belong to the wives) but the people call it the Lyonpo’s building anyway. they call it the Lyonpo’s in both cases cuz its the same title. 

  2. GIVE NO HAPINESS GET NO HAPPINESS

    Dgpc md too has one building rented to Dhi in motithang thimphu n his own building in pling rented to dgpc guest house n office. 

    This is a usual norm for dashos to contruct building on loan n lease it to govt agencies for higher rent without tender. 

    The mds of corporation, hydropower too kept all the project n company’s fund in their account n earn interest on it. Like in kurichu project where mds used to keep project fund in their account n earn interest from bob.

    Dashos buy vehicles n put on hire to themselves while in projects. Dashos purchased dozer, tripper n put on hire for project. Even though the items r not in their name but on their spouse or children or relatives name still its confilct on interest as how this people came to know such an idea n obviously the customer wants to do business with dashos coz it gives them confidence n hassle free business.

    Al thr ministers did wahtever they have do fast as they knew about ruppee crunch.

  3. Rules are meant for innocent and low income people … Audits visits offices and give harassment to innocent and low income people for small mistakes or on 100 Ngultrum diferences on the bills …

    • This is really true through my personal experience

      • yup! i absolutely agree with samdrup and pema, i have seen with my own eyes too. You should have good japtha (high/dashos link/thuenlam) if not then be prepared to face the worst.

  4. I think this is a good start. But why only these Ministers? I’m sure we have a lot of bog shots that have or had their own buildings being used as office space. If I’m not mistaken even the ACC, and ECB have had such cases. We should look at all of these.

  5. That is why People in Bhutan is the most corrupt people in the world. Right from getting bus ticket to mega projects, there is corruption and it has been deeply rooted in our system.

    We are fed up with corruptions in Bhutan. WHO will clean it up?

  6. True!!!very true.What The Bhutanese has reported above is 200% true.I support you in this.
    Some agency should also visit those offices and find out how much office space is used optimally in reality after hiring from those BIG shots by those offices or is it just to fill the pocket of those *&^king Ministers and their spouses.

    Good Job!!!.I request you the Bhutanese to even print the inside space also showing its utility

  7. ACC do something. Similarly many MDs of corporations have their houses in pling as guest houses with poor quality and staff and caretaker of that building.

  8. In a GNH country of Bhutan, it is so imperative that every Bhutanese be truthful in their actions as a good human being and greedy people must not be given platform to represent people and these kind of people will only breed negative energy in the soceity because their veins will be completely blocked where there is no chance of channelling positive enrgies.

  9. What’s new? But it’s great that this has been brought to people’s attention. However, this does not mean that they cannot tender for a spot if they meet the criteria. Why not? Politics is politics and sycophancy has been in our culture for ages. This is not going to go away anytime soon. Good job

  10. we can roughly make out where Bhutan lottery money has gone…….God save Bhutan

  11. it’s too bad!

  12. Great article. In Bhutan such practices where there is a conflict of interest must be put to an end. Otherwise not only our politicians but the whole society going to get corrupted.  Such articles bring out the silent corrupt practices that are become rampant in democratic Bhutan. The print media and the Bhutanese in particular has brought it out in the open. Now whose responsibility is it to take action and see an end is put to it and those responsible punished as per law of the land.

  13. the entire building of tshering wangda was hired by THPA for whole of project period and he was also board member of THPA. The DGPC MD is another culprit who had given whole building in Thimphu and Mongaar and in thimphu for KHPA… so frens these things r normal…. Bhutanese can cover stories on how many minister including PM keeping innocent ladies from east to make kiras… depriving all the facilities…rights…etc.

  14. We also see the ATMS of the banks, Mobile Towers on the roof top. About lyonpo’s residence, I have realized log time back itself, but what to do? we have no freedom to raise the issues.

  15. good ministers u did ur part  u fly over sky i will be loking afta u what hell u did .if i were u i would put a mask and be seated in ur prado.

  16. Hiring of office space by way of corrupt practices by government agencies is rampant in Bhutan and everyone are aware of this. Recently DGPC rented a huge office space at lower motithang at a monthly rent of about nu. 5 lakh. The criteria in the tender was tailor made so that only one bidder can qualify and interestingly the same happened. Furthermore the tender for office was floated somewhere in November 2012 however the layout plan of various departments of dgpc in that particular building was finalized in september 2012. Lots of corrupt practises happens here. There is one toyota prado of BG4 registration number totally devoted for dasho md’s aum duty. Expenditure on official dinners and foreign travels are lavish…

  17. The rule then says that those in the civil service, their spouses cannot run any businesses if it is likely to lead to COI. But, this applies to only low-level civil servants. We have two rules, and the affected ones are always the people without much income and power. Two ministers and other high-ranks should be throughly investigated, and accountability fixed. Although, the rule do not consider house renting as a business, it is a business. How can the government say it is not business when money transaction is taking place. RCSC should wake up. RCS is not doing its work well.

  18. God save our country!! These are all corruptions and have been going on for the last several decades.

    How about the old BDFC office until it moved into new office?

  19. Going by the same logic, applied in Gyalpozhing land case the responsible persons(s) for hiring Chigphen Rigphel office and other similar cases must also be sentenced. They are equally guilty in not discharging their duties in line with RCSC’s charter.

    ACC must venture into this areas also and put all those guilties, including the beneficiaries, behind the bars.

  20. AI! It is said that all setient beings take birth based on their past merits, some are born as wealthy, some handsome some ugly and some with one or two senses only out of five basic sense of organs. The rich people have accumulated more merits in their past lives and thus they are rich. The Govt. agencies have taken their houses as their offices since they did not have one and there is no harm in that. They may have looked for the spaces and found the buildings of Aums suitable and approiate. Even if the spaces were not occupied by the govt. agences, I do not assume that they would have remain empty when housing crunch in THIMPHU is very serious.

  21. Thank you very much to ‘The Bhutanese” for bringing this important issues.
    As pointed out by Zhaw yondu, there is no difference between Gyalpozhing and this issues. It is misuse of power,misuse of tax payer money, misuse of government procurement regulation and above all misuse of public trust.
    I am wondering how RAA misses this very important issues. Millions of public money are going directly into few elite people.
    The rich becoming richer and stick rules formulated by rich people are imposed without hesitation to the poor people.

  22. check who owns DGPC Office and DHI Office? 

  23. Laksam is a lost cause! Lol! 😉
    Its true, merit does bring blessings, but it comes from the truth. After all the fair play, if you get the money, yes merit! ‘
    But if you accumulate by cheating, you are not accumulating merit but finishing what you have merited too.
    Therefore, anybody letting cheating happen, is helping people live a wrong life.
    It is the duty of all human to help each other lead a clean, value laden, happy life, free from corruption and false claims.
    If we allow corruption to go unchecked, we help our friends to fall from grace never to regain a happy human life again.
    I salute to all rich and the powerful, if they attained it by all fair means. 😉

  24. This matter should be looked very sensitively and take it seriously…

  25. Corruption always starts from the top and nobody gives a dam about it because the very same people who can make a change are involved.
    The first thing if there is a new govt by a new party they should vacate all the govt offices/corporations from ministers and high level civil servants buildings.Then we can see hot they can repay their loan.They must experience what most of us go through in life.
    If we want to clean up our system then we must support ACC and let them pursue cases one by one.The biggiest scam could be the Bhutan lottery where big people are involved.How can a few handful of idiots close one of our biggest revenue earner of the government.
    Like someone i know sais:they knew CBI was coming to Bhutan so therefore closed down Bhutan lottery immediatedly.
    Why doesnt BBS do a story on Dhen Zhuen program on this.

  26. To the “The Bhutanese” please dont stop here la.You did a great job at Gyelposhing and now please do more awareness and write more on the lottery scam.We the public want to know the details.
    Tashi Deleg

  27. How about PDP candidate MM,s building in Olakaha rented by ECB?

  28. Now I know why our policy to create a “regionally balanced development” is not working. These decision makers want all the institutions to be based in Thimphu so that they could exhorbiantly rent their buildings which were initially built as residences. As a consiquence supply f housing is also in short supply. great job the bhutanese

  29. Our PM is so good in saying that we all should not be money minded. He says money is not every thing, and also said that it is money which will make us enemy of everbody. Is he talking sense! Now a days if you don’t have money you can’t be anybody. firstly there is no respect even from you own relatives. If what PM says is what he practice then fisrt and formost thing is he should give up all his properties and should not be advitising about his daughter n son’s bussiness. If i were in some of those minister’s shoes then i would have by now shown an example just by giving some scholarship to some of the needy childern from poor background families. You see there are 10000 + students passed from class ten, but there are only 4500 slots in class XI whereby most of this children comming from unfortunate background lost chance of furthering their qualification. They are this way not that they are bad but they are born to such families. It is very sad maay to know and think over this without able to do anything. The only hope for some of this unfortunates are the KIdu given by HM. i feel even some of the ministers and Tashi commercial companies should fulfill some social coporate responsiblity by taking up some good causes in our society.

    • yup! would appreciate to have some charity business in our society by rich lyonpos, dashos and big business men. share your wealth to poor and need ones toos after all we are all living in gnh country.

  30. The tenancy act will suffer silent death.

  31. Those lyonpos are the brother of Tshokpon and home minister. they will follow the same track of what two of them had followed. All high official are sweating for their sotamach in the name of serving Tsa wa sum. in fact Tsa wa sum or GNH are their belley. really a corrupted official that exixt in GNH country. i cant imagine what his son and daughter would do if they come to post of their father. what their father did is lesson for them. Corrupted and unfaithful lyonpo always lookin for their GNH (belly).

  32. including PM and all lyonpo, they are happy if they get what they have desire. always working for geting benifit themselves. they don think about neglected people of society. 
    “Rang den” is what we can call to them. they may say we r buddihst but they don think b4 they take public property as they r buddhist. 

  33. Druk Green Employees

    I ON  BEHALF OF DRUK GREEN EMPLOYEES-CORPORATE OFFICE,WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST THE HOUSE OWNER TO AT LEAST PUT A WATER TAP IN THE MEN’S TOILET. DGPC IS PAYING YOU 5 LAKHS PER MONTH AS RENT FOR THE OFFICE SPACE BUT THERE IS NOT EVEN A SINGLE TAP INSIDE THE MEN’S TOILET.
    ALL THE BIG BOSS HAVE THEIR OWN TOILET ATTACHED INSIDE THEIR CHAMBERS AND ALL THE FACILITIES ARE PROVIDED,SO THEY WILL NOT BOTHER ABOUT OTHERS.BUT THOSE STAFF WHO SITS OUTSIDE,WE ARE FINDING IT DIFFICULT.
    JUST IMAGINE YOURSELF HOW CAN WE COME OUT WHIT OUT GHOS UP AND UNDERWEAR DOWN TO WASH OUR ASS AFTER POOPING BECAUSE THERE IS NOT WATER OR NO TAP PROVIDED.EVEN THERE IS NO LIGHT.
    AND TO THE DGPC MANAGEMENT/HR,PLEASE AT-LEAST PROVIDE SOME TOWELS AND HAND WASHING SOAP.DGPC IS SUCH A BIG ORGANIZATION BUT NOT EVEN A HAND WAS IS PROVIDED IN MEN’S TOILET.
    PLEASE MANAGEMENT DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.EVEN THOSE GUEST FROM WITH COUNTRY AND OUTSIDE ARE FINDING IT DIFFICUT WITH OUR NEW OFFICE TOILET AND ITS HYGIENE REALLY SUCKS

  34. See how lyonpos, MDs, Secretaries and Dashos are making money. I know some of them are from rich parents and the wealth has been passed over from their great grand parents. But people like Lyonpo wangdi and Pema Gyamtsho have become rich in our own time. How could they become rich within a short span of time. ACC should thoroughly investigate how they have become rich.

  35. Hi Pema, It is not very nice to point fingers at others since you couldn’t achieve that. Putting little effort to find the fact is more important before even giving a comment in such forum. To my knowledge Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho has been in this position only in 2008. Before he was assigned to this position itself, he has finished his construction of his house. For many a year he was working in NGO’s and not in Government job. Therefore, how he became rich question does not arise at all. There are thousands of building in thimphu and many more are coming up. all these are happening in our own times. don’t you realize that. At least they worked in an office where they were paid highly and now they are lyonpos. Even there are many middle class people who are constructing building in towns one after another. What do you have to tell about those. You should be more suspicious of those than everytime trying to defame people who are trying their best to work sincerely and diligently. It seem You are taking out your frustration because you couldn’t achieve like they did or it seem you are a power hunger yourself.   

  36. Sangay Karp, Please we want to take a building on rent if you have one. Could you put it on Ads so that we can offer you good rent. People or agencies take the property on lease because they require them and people owning the property will definitely rent out to pay loans etc. But how do you prove that their properties were acquired through unfair means.

  37. ACC should investigate the above stories bcos they are all true. Government is losing so much money due to those above cash and money hungry lyonpos, dashos and MDs.
    The money is people’s tax money and therefore, such practice should be stopped for good.

  38. not only two lyonpos, but also other riches people of bhutan , how did they becom rich ?

    • “Ngama gang jey dhatai luelu ta, shilma gang jey dhatai sem lu dri” as the saying goes . Lyonpos became lyonpos because of the good deeds in their previous life and rich became rich because of the good deeds they have committed in their previous life.
      So to become yourselves rich or lyonpos, better tame your wild and jeolous mind and sow good deeds for your next life.

  39. That is why the people of Bhutan (majority) should lobby for shifting of the capital city to Bumthang or a completely new unused location…

    That is why we need change now or never…
    That is why DPT should not come back this time round… That is why enough is enough … All the current Cabinet ministers know the loopholes in the current system including fiddling with the procurement rules and regulations. What a pity for Bhutan and us Bhutanese???

  40. RBP Chief Brig Kipchu’s elder son has one huge building near Paro Jangsa bridge which was rented to Paro police officers without following any tender norms or a transperent and competitive process. The house owner is benefiting a large amount from our government. The Bhutanese can cover stories….

    • Yes, may be it is high time for ACC to go deeper into such practices to benefit public in the long term. Bhutan’s corruption is much worst than expected and ACC should fix it. Three cheers for ACC for what you have done so far.

      Aum Naten should not worry, we are behind you.

  41. May be a word of thanks to the Bhutanese for correctly bringing up these issues, if at all the public has to thank for reducing corruption in Bhutan, it is non other than “The Bhutanese”. Keep it up job well done so far for a bigger cause.

  42. If the building owners did not build their buildings, where do you think those offices would have housed. Thanks to the builders. Please build more buildings as there are many offices without proper spaces all cramped in the Dzong posing risks to Dzongs. All the Govt. offices should be removed from Dzong as they pose greater risks to the Dzongs.

    • You are correct, those offices would have housed in your buildings as the government (corrupted DPT) will not allow or allocate budget to construct office buildings.
      (All those old, corrupted, thoughtless ministers of DPT shouldn’t allow participating in 2013 election)

  43. How about offices like DGPC,BOB,PUNATSANCHU-I &II, DEPARTMENT OF ADULT AND HIGHER EDUCATION. They are all in private buildings since many years back. As these buildings did not belong to the serving ministers, this paper did not inform the people

  44. This is all about our Ministers who appear so simple and law abiding in the face but are dons behind…………….I am not going for DPT this time but neither PDP

  45. Why can’t some of these government agencies use the empty space at the IT Park – which the government is paying for anyway?

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