Saturday, June 20, 2020

Does COVID-19 Affect the Brain?

Generally it is accepted that the COVID-19 virus affects a vital human organ called the lungs. But in Bhutan it seems to affect a different organ of the body - atleast among the Members of the National Council – the brain. They seem to have lost it completely. Or why else would they proposition an outrageous idea like handing over the mining operations to the SMCL? I am happy that the Members of the NA stood their ground.

State owned and operated enterprises have never done well. They cannot - it is not in their culture to operate enterprises of commerce and trade. The only thing the government and the bureaucracy should be entrusted with is governance – even that they do so poorly.

Mining activities can be ably undertaken by the private sector, and they have been doing so for the past many years. The mining companies have been generating millions in tax revenue. If the state takes over the operations, forget tax revenues – the sate may have to bear losses through inefficiency and corruption and lack of competence and business acumen.

Talking of civil service, it reminded me of a strange conversation I had with my late boss Dasho Rinzin Dorji – in the early 80’s when I too was a member of the brood who are neither civil nor servants. But this narration should certainly warm the hearts of the present lot of civil service – because this would go to demonstrate that this monopoly has been with their lot since decades.

Even those days we were so frustrated with the civil service that one morning my boss Dasho Rinzin Dorji and I sat down do brood over how we might contribute to improving efficiency in the government. While a number of options were discussed, we narrowed down to one real possibility:

Hand over the governance of the country to Mr. G. C. Bhura at 15% commission.

G. C. Bhura was then the Managing Director of Tashi group of companies – since deceased. He was perceived to be a very efficient and successful executive. However, on careful reconsideration, we decided that this would be tantamount to fronting – that too for a none-national. Even those early days fronting was seen as a scourge that needed to be rooted out. Ofcourse we never could – even to this day.

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