Look at the picture above.
Is it a marriage? A celebration of good fortune such as a promotion or a lottery win? No. Wait for this – it’s a crisis meeting!
First of all, the economic crisis has been in the happening for a year now. And the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) and the government never woke up to it.
There is a good reason for this. The people suffering the crisis’ effects are small and medium businessmen. People for whom loans, mortgages, immigration rules, rupee access, etc., make a difference. Or should we say, make or break them? The BCCI is led by the richest of the rich. Tashi Commercial’s Tobgyal Dorji is the President (his car is parked next to the PM and ministers!). Prominent members are those families owning steel mills, marble mines, banks, hotels, ferro alloy/silicon factories, airlines, telecom companies, and so on. Have a look at the numbers of expensive huge cars parked there. What crisis?
The crisis never hurt them. Nothing can. When business, government and financial institutions combine to form one powerful entity, that is an unbeatable elite entity. The country can go into a recession and crisis. The people can suffer immeasurable changes to their day to day lives for the worse and wait in lines at offices, banks and petrol pumps. But this entity will remain powerful and in fact benefit from the crisis.
Rupee crisis means Bhutan needs rupees. Yet what does the government do for elite business houses? It gives subsidized power tariffs. So power we could have sold for valuable rupees to India is sold to big local businesses at a discount, for ngultrum. Know the cost of this to the government? Many many crores and millions. Know what these elite companies do? They use the cheap power to undercut the Indian market and make a killing. Their key input is cheap power! So without lifting a finger or even using a single grey cell in their brain, they are big businessmen making crores. Crores from the government treasury. Minister Zimba was known to say, “we are literally putting government money directly into the pockets of our big business families. Why bother to set up companies etc? Just give them the money.” That was before 2008 when he was economic affairs minister.
So we must understand why flags, dhars and red carpets are needed for a crisis meeting. This is a meeting to further consolidate the partnership between the elite new political class and the elite business class. They were already married so lets say this is a re-validation of their love. One the eve of reelection they reaffirm their vows to each other.
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