Be it the corporate world or the government one of the most important attributes of leadership is to lead by example.
However, two recent instances have shown our politicians being great at prescribing medicines but unwilling to swallow some of their own.
The first is the case of the Prime Minister on behalf of the ministers approaching and asking His Majesty the King for Soelra to keep the duty Prado Vehicles. This bold move by the elected government put His Majesty the King in a position in which His Majesty could not say no without thoroughly embarrassing the first democratically elected Prime Minister and Ministers.
However, the elected government before making such a move should have considered the fact that the country is facing one of its worst ever financial crises like the Rupee and Credit crises, which in large part is due to their mismanagement of the economy.
The elected government should also realize that the country’s debt is at around Nu 78 bn which is around 80 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and is slated to increase in the coming years.
Ordinary people are facing unprecedented financial hardships with people losing their jobs especially in the private sector and businesses are either closing down or on the verge of closure.
Even in stable professions like the civil service and corporate sector the value of their pay has dwindled due to record inflation levels, which as per the latest data is caused more by domestic facts like house rents etc. Furthermore due to the financial crisis that is expected to last many more years, they will not be getting a pay rise anytime soon to meet inflationary pressures.
It was not long ago that the Prime Minister and his ministers blamed ordinary Bhutanese for the rupee crisis and preached austerity by imposing a series of bans on various items including vehicle imports.
However, they did not find it inconvenient to ask for and accept expensive vehicles that where paid for by hard earned tax payers money.
The Prime Minister in an interview said that his ‘forehead tickled’ when they asked donors for developmental assistance. One would not be wrong in guessing that the donors would be ‘tickled’ themselves to learn that the elected leaders of a least developed country have up to five luxury vehicles parked in their garage paid for by tax payers.
Another example is in the recent meeting at the Bhutan Chambers of Commerce and Industry where the Prime Minister took a strong stand against requests to allow mining in some areas.
In so many words he said mining benefits only a few, it is bad for the environment; it is not in line for GNH and etc. Prior to this the government, in both national and international forums have railed against mining as being polluting and anti-GNH and etc. We have in fact even lectured the world about not pursuing a certain path of development and have even passed a happiness resolution in the UN.
However, the ground reality is that family members of relatives of the Prime Minister have applied for and also operate multiple mines across Bhutan.
It was also recently under his government’s tenure that two mines have been approved for his family members while more are being processed.
There is of course nothing legally wrong with the Prime Ministers family members and relatives owning mines as long as rules are followed, but the head of the government has to learn that charity starts at home.
With the evidences above one can’t avoid the uncomfortable feeling that the Prime Minister and his colleagues say something but do something else.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
― Albert Schweitzer