NC members call for ACC probe in Trowa Case

The public accounts committee’s (PAC) recommendations on the Trowa theatre land case was criticized by National Council (NC) members some of whom called for and expressed support for an Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) probe.

NC members disagreed with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement’s proposal to sell the Trowa theater land in Changjiji, Thimphu.

Trashigang NC MP Dr. Sonam Kinga suggested a proactive investigation on the issue by ACC, stating that it was a case of ‘policy corruption’.

Gasa NC MP Sangay Khandu who expressed support for an ACC investigation said “It would be most appropriate as an independent report would shed light on the case and help identify lapses and accountable officials which are critical to fixing accountability if corruption is proven, which appears to be the case right now”.

Dagana NC MP Sonam Dorji said “ACC needs to take up the issue as soon as possible”.

The Trowa case involves some 19,500 square feet (Sft) of government land that was leased to a businessman in 2001 to build a recreational centre for the residents of the complex.

The lessee who was unable to construct a theatre then sold the land to another private individual, Kinlay Wangchuk of Riverview Hotel. The lease as part of a larger government policy decision on leased areas increased from Nu 2 per sft to Nu 42 per sft .

Refusing to accept the new rates Kinlay Wangchuk after taking over the lease has still not signed a lease agreement with the government nor has he paid any lease rent since 2006. The current total outstanding lease rent has been calculated at more than Nu 5.2mn.

The issue was first discussed during the 5th and later the 7th parliamentary sessions, in 2010 and 2011 and on both occasions it was decided that the government should resolve it in accordance with the law. The case was yet again included in the PAC’s report presented in the NA last month.

Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said selling the land to the theatre owner seemed most suitable since buying it back along with the theatre would incur huge cost for the government. The ministry had already sent a proposal to national land commission (NLC) to sell the land to the owner of Trowa theatre, Kinlay Wangchuk.

NA then concluded with a decision to wait and hear from NLC. “I think we should wait what comes out of that,” NA speaker Jigme Tshultim said then. He also said government has the authority to sell the land if it wished to.

NC Deputy-Chairperson Sonam Kinga said, “In the past six years and six months the lease rent due has piled up to more than Nu 5.2mn but the government hasn’t received a penny”, he said.

He said it was concluded in parliament last year that the government should resolve the case in accordance with relevant laws of land while the situation now is turning just the opposite. “It is learnt that many letters were exchanged between the ministry and the lessee and has now concluded to sell the land to the lessee”.

He said, a ministry proposing to sell government land to a private individual means proposing to act against the law.

Wangduephodrang NC MP Sonam Yangchen cited a host of laws to justify her point that selling the land to a private individual was completely illegal.

According to land Act, government land can be transferred to private only as kidu, zhisar, exchange and substitute. All other transactions such as selling of government land is prohibited and a criminal offense. “Therefore, Trowa theatre land cannot be sold to a private individual,” she said. “It comes under misdemeanor according to law.”

She said it is important to “remind the government about the clauses in the Land Act 2007 and that selling government land is illegal”.

Dagana NC member Sonam Dorji said “Whether it is the ACC, the court or a commission, a time frame must be defined to resolve the issue as it has already been delayed by more than six years”.

He said it is an issue of inequality and corruption because if normal citizens residing in government houses default on their rents, the government serves warning and eviction notices and in the case of Trowa theatre, no action had been taken for more than six years. He said, instead of sending any default warnings, the land is now about to be sold off to the defaulter.

“If government land is sold out in this manner, some people have enough money to buy the entire capital city”, he said.

Sonam Kinga supported one of PAC’s recommendations to take the case to court of justice. “Why did the government allow business operations on the land without signing the lease agreement as though it was signed? I support PAC that responsible individuals need to be taken to court”, he said.

One of PAC’s recommendations stating that the ministry’s proposal on the sale of government land to private individual may be confirmed with the Land Act was described by Sonam Kinga as a weak one. “According to the Land Act, it says government land cannot be sold to private individual. There is nothing to confirm. It is clear and it comes under corruption,” he said.

He said NC should instead note that the government has intentionally proposed an illegal land transaction and also allowed business operations on the land without signing the lease agreement. “This is policy corruption and it calls for proactive ACC investigation,” said Sonam Kinga. He said the land hasn’t been sold yet and is important that the investigation be carried out immediately.

Gasa NC MP Sangay Khandu said “The reluctance by agencies to act more appropriately appears to be a big failure. It seems reason enough to believe that responsible officials had shied away from their responsibilities at all levels”.

Bumthang NC MP Tshewang Jurmi also supported ACC carry out the investigation immediately to avoid any further issues. He said “Selling the land to the theatre owner is completely unacceptable”.

The PAC chaired by Trashiyangtse NA member Kesang Wangdi is a joint parliamentary committee comprised of NA and NC members.

Other PAC members include Pemagatshel NC member Jigme Rinzin, opposition MP Damcho Dorji and Mongar NA member Sonam Penjore.

The NC will come to a conclusion during its session on July 6.

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46 comments

  1. Very brave of NC. for taking up the case. If this case is being forwarded to ACC than the case will get buried, same like the Gyelpozing case. Since this also involves high profile including PM

  2. This is daylight robbery, if this things happened in 2000’s, imagine what must have happened in 1970,1980,1990’s, i think all the ministers and secretaries and dashos should be thoroughly investigated, this is open case corruption.

    My godness, i didnot know that ministers had power to sell the land directly to any individual, if it is so, i will buy the trowa land at double the price, kinley wanghuck is paying…and i will give some commission to ministers too if they want

  3. Some the concerned corrupt people should die of self guilt if not of SHAME

  4. Amazing what magic our decision makers can perform for the well-connected.  This guy was allowed to carry on all these years in open breach of the law and instead of being penalized and evicted, the Minister in charge decides to reward him handsomely!  

  5. Law is law and nobody should be above the law. I m convinced the trowa land transaction is illegal……and public is entitled to the truth.

    i hope our media will continue to expose all such high level corruptions! 

  6. The annual PAC report must not be limited to RAA/ ACC reports only. Like in many countries and as empowered by our constitution, the PAC  is one of the most powerful committees and must make itself accessible and exercise its full authority even thoroughly  verify the raa / acc reports! as directed by nc, the acc must launch investigation on the trowa land case as a priority like any other land cases!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. why? Why does this happen in our country? I have seen the house in Surey being demolished by bull dozzer despite the fact the house was built on registered private land, and another still is erect with a pretext. Please give justice to the eyes of everyone.
    We want Trowa theatre demolished without any compensation as the same government has demolished the home of someone. How sarcastic is it? A family can be made homeless, but an entertainment unit enjoys the skewed benifit from this same law enforcing body? Do you think we are overconscious or see the rule of law flawed?
    Which nation sells its land to private individual? Why not demolish it?
    Another concern is Lyonpo colony!

    • Now that the flood gates have opened, I would like the NC member from Trashigang, Dr. Sonam Kinga to put his money where his mouth is and direct the ACC to also investigate how the Olathang Hotel complexes at Paro is now owned by a private business entity. In theTrowas case, at least the theatar itself was built by the present owners, in the case of Olathang Hotel, the whole complex and the land on it once belonged to the RGOB.

  8. Bhutanbu/Drukson

    Today in kuensel online there is an article about NC rejecting all decissions of NA, one NA member says ‘NC is not accepting our bills’ . There is a earth turning truth with what NC isdoing with NA, all people must be aware that NC is less corrupt, fully corrupt NA members deserve no votes again. This is what NC say to oublic through their act, i wish people understand it.
    What has this DPT government done, why do they claim the green tax is a public interest? How on earth will some one have an interest to pay higher, should they pay they must be unaware that they are contributing to inflation of Ngultrum.
    Vegetables are costing so high, this is what DPT has done, is this too a public interest?
    Five mines are about to be leased, is it another interest of public? Is green tax not appropriate for mines instead of vehicles?
    Two private television stations are kept on halt fearing their impact on votes for DPT, someone wanted to privatize BBS TV: do you see the bullshit inside DPT’s government? Is this another public interest?
    Who in the DPT knows what benifit will be derived if deposition interest of bank is lowered and interest on loans is increased, this may be another point in DPT’s manifesto next.
    I wish we never fail as DPT did. No one welcomes pesdetrian day, no logic behind.
    Vegetable ban????? See the price today?
    Want to develop bhutanese agro-GDP WITH REDUCED BUDGET?
    All you have is failure, i failed to be a good citizen because the government i voted failed, i am humbled by their ego. Whydo we need education city? Can we compete with India, Malasya and Srilanka for education infrastructure, we dont have enough budget to give our students a decent meal that we resort to vitamin pills, our Lyonpo gets global award for that!!!
    I never wanted to be a politician, my opinions are for general analysis and to give thinkers and rationalist a way to convince voters next!

  9. Infact instead of essential commodities like vegetable ban, it will be rather worthwhile to ban the import of compound bow which is killing our national game of archery. It is also creating gap between rich and poor which is not keeping with GNH conecept.

  10. I think this is a lesson that people of Bhutan can learn and have the image of Future, If the kidu and land satshap is taken from King and involve the ministers.

    People should know DPT govt is playing politics by getting involved in the NLC. And the main reason why they have postponed the land amendment for next parliament is just because if they keep it un resolved they can play politics with innocent and illiterate people of Bhutan. They will highlight the issue in their camping, so that they can get the voters vote for them.
    People of Bhutan its high time for us to think over again and if DPT promise any thing related to land issue just dont believe and dont forget that they are playing dirty politics

  11. each time I am late to pay some fee or bill or tax, they charge a penal interest of 24% on top of what i owe. So I would expect the Trowa Theatre owner to pay a similar penalty for the past 6 years of not paying anything.

    So for not paying 5.2 million, at simple interest, he needs to pay an additional 1.248 million and counting. As of now, he owes Nu.6.44 million to RGOB. 

  12. What ‘the other’ said should have become a headline on some media: DPT has paid their party due from the undertable gifts made by river view malik and many more. I wonder if NEC has ever known if the lyonpo colony was built after obtaining an clearance or if environmental impact assessment was ever done.

  13. It is very much possible that trowa theatre owner suing the govt for not sticking to the original tariff rate and instead putting the govt at fault for defaulting the initial signed contract agrement. It does not sound logical but it is possible when govt locks horns with powerful individuals. I heard there had been a few cases in the past, neither picked up by media nor discussed in any forum, where our govt reimbursed millions of ngulturms to power-packed individuals when there were changes in trade or tariff policies, because these individuals would simply stick to their initial contract and wouldn’t want to incorporate new tariff rates.

    • yes but in this case there is no signed agreement. In fact there are so many questions. how did he manage to buy the lease without the lease being floated again to other interested parties? Why did he build when he hadn’t even signed? And the new rate was raised at the time he took over the place. 

      there is no question of riverview fellow being a ‘powerful’ chap with very pushy ways. but the govt needs to show whose the boss in this case, not when they are dealing with village folks. the riverview owner has a history of grabbing land and this trowa case is just the tip of the ice berg. I hear he has a 200 acre land grab case in serbithang in the middle of the forest. and lots of excess land in his private plot near the trowa theatre. 

      the ball’s in the govt’s court to do the right thing. or do the corrupted thing. Jimba has clearly recommended the corrupted thing. what a bozo!

      • Ask that question to Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji.

      • yes some of those questions need to be directed to LKD. And they need to be asked by LYZ. Instead he’s come up with a foolhardy proposal. 

        So there are many idiotic parts to be unraveled as we go along.

    • Zangmo,

      You were right, it is now a distinct possibility that the Trowa owner can actually sue the government for ordering him to pay much higher lease rates than charged to other business entities.

  14. There is no limit, only sky is the limit. The elected leaders should know their limit. This is an act of open corruption- a syndicate and almost mafia-type- now they are bold enough to commit corrupt practices openly. As someone has said they are all well connected through daughters and sons marriage. The Law and Rules of Bhutan should apply. The tax need to be collected; money cannot buy laws and Rules of the Land, please. Pl do not play fool too much with the people of Bhutan, it is disgusting and going over the limit

  15. If what had reported in the paper of selling the land to the owner of the Trowa Theater, then Lyonpo Zimba is becoming too old think critically. If his remarks ‘it will be too expensive for the government to buy the land back with the theater’ is true, then he has gone crazy. He must have serious medical attention before he could harm the ministry and the DPT government. There is no question of land buying back because it is the government land, it was never sold. What about 5 something million ngulturm that the lessee had not paid? Is it so difficult to deal with the lessee because he or she is now related somehow to the royal family? Come on lads. 

    • yes he should get no special consideration because there is a marriage connection to royalty. But we need to be clear that the name of the Royalty should not be tarnished through this affair. It is the names of those who are trying to use their connections that must be dragged through the dirt.

      This includes Jimba and his faulty logic. I agree it could be the beginnings of senility setting in. He said something similar regarding the education city where he was pushing it to be passed quickly because it is getting late. What the! man!

  16. Someone please urge the NC to ask ACC to probe Zimba, a huge building is being erected perhaps at the cost of health of all Bhutanese. I am afraid we are drowened.

    • If you urge the NC to probe the corruption in the Ministry of Health during Lyonpo Sangy Ngedups tenure as the Health Minister, than I will be willing to help you out.

    • what are you saying, that  you are happy to make deals? Please, you are making a mockery of yourself when you say such things in the face of such blatant acts of corruption. whatever else you say, at least have the decency to admit what a blatantly stupid and corrupt proposition LYZ has made.

      • First of all I am not defending LYZ at all, far from it, what I am saying is that if Mr. Young is really concerned about the rampant corruption in Bhutan, why stop at him, other people known for corrupt practices like SND must be investigated too. You just can’t go on a witch hunt in one direction only. 

        But believe me, I am as disappointed as you with LYZs performance and for placing all his relatives in plum posts.

      • face it. As the ruling party, it is natural that they will come under greater and immediate scrutiny. The same thing would have beset the PDP had they won the elections. Instead of crying about others, the DPT needs to do the right thing and provide honest answers. 

        Besides, it is within the ruling party’s power to investigate whatever they want from the past. Just look at the top priority given to the NRDCL case.  I think your argument is in reverse. I think they are not investing things from the past because they themselves have skeletons in the closet from the past IN ADDITION to new cases of misbehavior. Chang Ugyen and Gyelpoishing and Bumthang and Nganglam represent just the tip of the iceberg.

        The DPT has behaved disgustingly and it is entirely indefensible. 

  17. You are a real funny guy, what happened in the past has nothing to do with DPT and it is not the DPT that is raking up old issues, rather it is the media and this paper in particular that is doing so. While I am happy that the media is exposing corruption, what they should not be doing is only targeting the ruling DPT government. Again, the Gyelposhing case is from another time and the DPT government had nothing to do with it, for me personally, I just hope that the Speaker is convicted of wrong doing and sent to jail. Again the NRDCL case, if the person convicted had proved to be innocent, than I would agree with you, but it is clear that was not the case. About Bumthang, have never heard about it, so please provide details.  Nanglam case, how do you blame the government for it.

    • As i said, the ruling government is always the lightning rod that attracts all the attention of investigators and media people. No point complaining about it. If the DPT loses next time they will also enjoy at least 5 years of peace and quiet. 

      But so long as they are in power, they need to provide good answers. We don’t need to hear constant whining about being ‘targeted’. 

      • What more good answers do you want the government to provide, the Gyelposhing case is being investigated by the ACC, the Trowa case too is going to be taken care of by the ACC, likewise all other corruption cases too will come under the purview of the ACC, so what more do you want the government to do. 

        • We want govt. and ACC to put the words into action. Just telling that case will be investigated by ACC doesnt solve the issue. They need to do REAL investigation and show the information and results to the public.

          • So what do you think the ACC is doing, in regard to the Gyelposhing case, the ACC has nearly completed the investigations and I am sure the report will come out soon. It is not possible for the ACC to come up with reports as fast as some people expect them to.

  18. So why dont Mr. Young and others against LSN and LYZ for an NGO to probe the suspicious?

  19. His Majesty should punish the corrupts involved in this land deal. how can someone go beyond the power of HM and play with the precious land of the country?

  20. Shear case of direct corruption!!!!!!

  21. Bhutan is looking for some kind of a serious problem if the rich business people and elected leaders/people in power are selfish/greedy and do not know how to manage the nation’s precious resources as per the laws/Rules of the land. In the land of GNH- please find out why the people of Denmark are the happiest people in the world, please study their model and find out why they are happier than we Bhutanese who actually promotes the philosophy of GNH.

    For a truly GNH society, one cannot twist the national Laws/Rules as they wish to be. Simple fact – it is too late to fool and cheat the citizens of this nation, enough is enough. Please focus on reducing the gap between rich and poor through the genuine and long-term goals and create an enabling environment which could benefit all of us and flourish our beautiful nation. These few business people have no limit and these are the ones who will cause a damage that will have a huge long-term implication, perhaps difficult to correct it if not checked from the beginning. These few rich people have their needs like drinking salty water, as they drink more, they are thirstier and they like to keep on drinking to quench their thirst at the expense of the nation’s resources.
    We are a small nation and let us be sensitive to the needs of all our people instead of corrupt policies and making deals amongst the well connected parents through marriages of sons and daughters- please be sensitive to this factor: the citizens are well aware of this across the country. Do not try our people to lose their hope and faith in the system!.
    Our request to this Ruling Govt do some studies on these:

    (1) Why Denmark is the happiest country in the world, why not Bhutan?
    (2) Why New Zealand is the least corrupt in the world, why not Bhutan?

  22. The tax has to be collected and also the penalty as per the norms prescribed by the Royal Audit Authority. Ruling Govt.- please think of the long-term interest of the nation and the citizens.

    Please collect the tax immediately and the respondible officials be brought to the task inculding termination and prosecution for colluding, aiding, abetting and compromising the official duties. Both the official and the business man who failed to pay the tax have to be prosecuted to show the example to the people of the country that even the influential and rich business man is not spared by the system of the country.

  23. Please read today’s article on land lease rates in Thimphu and it will prove to all readers that this newspaper, ‘the Bhutanese’ has always written negative stories about the RGOB. In this story nowhere have they written anything about the normal lease rates charged which according to Kuensel for commercial plots is Nu.20 per square foot, while the Trowa theater owner was asked to pay Nu 42 per square foot. Anyone in his shoes would have refused to pay the new rates knowing that others were paying far less.

    The NC, playing the oppositions role with aplomb may regret their haste in ordering an ACC probe into the issue because this is going to open up a pandora’s box to the discomfort of many and it now looks more and more like the Trowa owner will win any case that is filed against him in a court of law.

    To all the NC members and to Dr, Sonam Kinga in particular, better luck next time and  hope your sparring with the River view Malik goes off well.

    • what a gloatingly disgusting post. Yes there is an anomaly over the lease rates. But it does seem a fact that at the time of selling the lease the rate charged was 42. But kinley wangchuk did not agree to it while at the same time agreeing to lease the land. kind of a funny position. 

      LYZ then seems to have offered to negotiate it to 20, being party supporter and all, but even that the Kinley wangchuk refused to accept. 

      FAce it, the man basically wants it for free. and he’s had it for free for this long. Time to pay up. 

      • Apkado, wise guy, please read todays kuensel story on the Trowa lease rate issue and as I mentioned earlier, this newspaper just churns out shit to get maximum exposure. They never did their homework and came out with this story just because the Trowa malik sons is marrie to our PMs daughter and that this would make life tougher for the PM.

        • NC MP, Dr. Sonam Kinga, next time, please don’t let your hatred for the DPT make you jump the gun and I hope you have read the Kuensel article too.

  24. Though not relevant i want share a story.Recently i have to my village n my village mate asked me that “u stay in Thimphu have u been to Trowa Theatre”? i said yes many times n he said again “do u know that Trowa Theatre is a “fan” I said y fan, then he started narrating story that the owner of the trowa theatre is very powerful and like a fan that he can blow every body even Zhabtog Lyenpo has been blown away.During my back journey to Thimphu when i call my friend who also recently been to village told me that actually they r trying to say “Scam”. I was so foolish

  25. drukpa drukpa

    DPT monks like you should shut the crap up. I think this paper is not on the negative side but on the truthful side. Instead of cocooning in your state of denial, learn to accept bitter truth. 

  26. drukpa drukpa

    newspapers has no powers to increase lease rent nor preach land laws.  its DPT dogs like you who finds dirty ways of abusing power over land and public money.   people like you are in favour of someone who has not paid the government/public a single penny for running profitable business on government land!!!   we cant stand it at all.  

    • It is crystal clear to me that you did not understand my post, so I am not responding to you. And referring to us as DPT dogs, haha, how pathetic can you get.

  27. Just opinion only…

    I think royals should be barred from competting the citizens as they are being paid with royalty and priveleges.

    Or they should resign and do not take royal priveleges.

    jst an opinion 

  28. All are requested to discuss issues professionally instead of vomiting all your frustrations in to this dignified Forum. Do not let out the Barbaric animal instincts. Enjoy your discussions!

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