The government leasing out its land to a private individual without a lease agreement is a case of policy corruption, National Council (NC) members said yesterday.
The NC discussed the controversial case of government land lease in Changjiji, Thimphu.
The government in 2001 leased out the land where Trowa Theatre in Changjiji stands to a businessman. The lease rent was Nu. 2 per square feet then.
Later in 2006, the man suggested transfer of lease to another businessman, Kunlay Wangchuk. The government approved the transfer of the lease with an increase in the rent to Nu. 42 per square feet. But no lease agreement was signed because the businessman was not happy with the increase in lease rent.
Despite not signing a lease agreement, the government approved the lease in January, 2006. And till date, neither the lease agreement has been signed nor has the lease rent been collected. As on May 31, 2012, the rent had amounted to Nu 5.237 million.
The members of the NC questioned why the government did not collect the lease rent for so long.
“How come the government has allowed that businessman to operate the entertainment theatre without having signed the lease agreement?” asked the deputy chair of the NC, Dr. Sonam Kinga.
Ministry of Works and Human Settlement on June 1 this year requested National Land Commission for approval to sell the land at the price negotiated between National Housing Development Corporation and Kunlay Wangchuk.
This, Dr Sonam Kinga said, is in violation of section 307 of the Land Act of Bhutan 2007 which states that under no circumstances shall the land on lease from the government or government reserved forest land be converted to ownership right.
“Even if the whole ministry did not know about the act, they still had one year to look at it (between the last session and this session),” he said.
He said it is a policy corruption because the government is proposing the violation of enforced law, and it’s for individual benefit. He added that the government is proposing the sale of the land not because the person has incurred loss but in the context of him having earned income despite not signing the agreement.
Dagana representative, Sonam Dorji, and Wangdue representative, Sonam Yangchen, also echoed the same view. The members submitted that Anti-corruption Commission carry out an investigation into the case, in which the government is trying to protect and favour a wealthy, influential person.
From Bhutan Observer