On central school impact, road safety and potholes, and Dungsam Polymer share price

Assess the impact of central school policy

This government has established 63 central schools so far. These schools have immensely benefited a lot of children, especially those from poor parents.

It is yet to conclude if central schools have really contributed to the improvement in the quality of education. However, the students get food and other necessities for free.

The government is expected to open more central schools if the present government is reelected. Central schools are not a new concept in Bhutan. Many of us have been educated in central schools that were a thing of past until the present government re-introduced them.

However, establishment of central schools should not affect the development of our rural communities. It is said that establishment of central schools has affected community and primary schools in many parts of the country. Establishment of a school in a rural community is seen as a sign of development there. The new government must assess the central school policy.

Karma Dorji
(Published on July 2, 2018)

What does it mean to be Bhutanese?

Recently, I attended a series of informal talks about Bhutan. I found myself wondering what information about our country was shared among the international communities. The youth attending the talks were all privileged ones who live and study outside the country.

The topics discussed during the sessions were on prominent aspects of Bhutan: GNH (Gross National Happiness), Bhutanese history and Bhutanese identity, among others. However, I noticed that many of those present didn’t seem to treat these subjects seriously.

I have come to understand that while we can’t to be representatives of our country, it is our choice as the youth to create and shape Bhutanese identity. Like it or not, the responsibility of portraying the country falls squarely on us young citizens. And that means being able to prioritize our national interests and objectives.

Are our young people growing up without knowing what makes us Bhutanese and what does it mean to be Bhutanese? Profound as these questions are, how are we raising our children the custodians of our future?

(Published on July 3, 2018)

Farmers taking unprescribed painkillers

To the Ministry of Health:

During my recent visit to the villages of Punakha, I found people actively participating in farming. It was good to see villagers coming together and helping each other for a collective successful farming season. However, it was sad to see villagers taking unprescribed painkillers on a regular basis to relieve themselves from pain and body aches caused from heavy physical work in the fields.

On inquiry, the prominent painkiller that they are used to taking was Diclowin (green cover tablets). I found that on average villagers take two tablets in a day, one before work and another after work. Everyone carries a strip of Diclowin in his or her pocket. It was shocking to see our innocent villagers taking unprescribed medicines on a regular basis, which could have side effects
in later part of their life. Such negligence is not acceptable in our society.

Further, villagers that I met told me that almost all villagers take the painkillers on a regular basis during the farming season to get relief from pains. I tried to advocate on the side effects of consuming unprescribed painkillers. However, they said they are so used to it, have been taking them for a long time and they have not suffered any pain. I failed to convince them. I am of the view that not only villagers of Punakha but also other villagers across the country could be taking the pills.

I request the Ministry of Health to conduct awareness programmes specially targeting the villagers in all dzongkhags on the side effects of taking such painkiller without doctor’s advice. I write this based on my recent experience.

Kuenzang Wangchuk
(Published on July 4, 2018)

Dungsam Polymer’s share is sold at 65% premium price

It has been six straight years since Dungsam Polymer Limited sold it IPO at Nu. 165 a share but until now, no dividend have been declared. The face value of the share is Nu 100 and sold at 65% premium price. Investors paid Nu 165 for a share. DPL became DHI controlled company by selling its share to the public.

I would like to ask who farmed and formulated the DPL share prospects to sell its shares at premium price? When can a company sell IPO at premium price? Who regulates the sale of IPO in Bhutan?

As far as I am concerned, when a company does not have any past data indicating that it would be a profitable company in future, it cannot sell the shares at a premium. DPL did not have any such data to indicate its future profit. If we look at the Prospectus issued to the prospective investors at the time of selling its IPO, it has shown a projected Profit After Tax from 2012 to 2016, which I do not believe.

Year Profit After Tax (In Million)
2012 Nu. -9.45
2013 Nu. 5.2
2014 Nu. 9.95
2015 Nu. 18.39
2016 Nu. 22.26

The company has been in loss from 2012 until now and reportedly it suffered Nu 20 million loss in 2016, contrary to what is shown in the prospectus.

On what bases does a company sell the IPO at 65% premium price when they cannot declare dividends to the investors even after six years in business? I feel the premium price charged on DPL’s share to its investors should be refunded. It is not fair. I suggest DPL to float Bond rather than charging premium price on sick company’s share to the public.

Passang Dorji
(Published July 5, 2018)

Safety (road) first

It’s monsoon and the season of accidents. I write this letter following many road accidents occurring in the remote areas because of poor road condition, inexperienced driving and overloading.

While some accident cases are reported in media, most do not get coverage (for reasons unknown) but the impact of these accidents are huge, as it takes lives and shatters families.

A recent case in eastern Mongar, where a Bolero ferrying students of a school to a remote village met with an accident, was not reported in the media. It was learnt that there were about 18 -19 students in the Bolero. Although there was no casualty, it was learnt that the students were injured.

I do not know the cause of the accident but I do blame the driver. Like any other rural residents, he must have been generous and offered a lift to the students or the students’ parents must have begged him to bring their children from school. Many of us, who walked miles to school, know what it is to get a lift.

But I wonder if there is any mechanism where we can educate the people on the safety issues and dangers of carrying more passengers than allowed.

The other problem is about inexperienced driving. Our rural villages are now connected with roads and people are buying utility vehicles like never before. But most people, who bought the vehicle, tend to drive without even learning how to drive properly. There has to be education and awareness to the rural masses. They do not realize the dangers.

(Published on July 6, 2018)

Need a permanent solution to fix recurring potholes

While traffic congestion problem is growing in the city, the condition of our road is getting worse. Potholes remain a chronic problem in the city.

Every road that we drive on in the city has potholes. Getting the potholes fixed should be a priority because it is not only risky for the commuters but also costs the government’s coffer.

The authority concerned does repair the roads but they take longer to do it. The potholes left unattended for a longer period of time only makes it difficult to fill and costlier. It is important to fix the potholes when they are small so as to avoid further problems.

I have been using the road above NPPF colony towards Changangkha for many years and the road was always in good condition until this year. A few months later, small potholes started to appear on the road and it has been few months since nothing has been done. The road’s condition is pathetic today. The potholes right above the Norling building in Changangkha were deep and dangerous. It has become a reason for traffic congestion as drivers slow down or change lanes to avoid damage to their vehicles. Recently, it has been filled with gravels but with more vehicles plying on it, the potholes are likely to appear.

The other problem is people dig up a good road to lay water pipes or cables and it is never repaired properly, which results in potholes. Authority concerned should look into it.

If the authority concerned could carry out a study or look into how we could better do it so that the repairs last longer, then such recurring problems could be greatly reduced.

(Published on July 7, 2018)

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