News and Announcement

14 NC members to recontest

Six members including the Chairperson have decided not to recontest  Fourteen incumbent National Council (NC) members are heading to their dzongkhags to recontest the upcoming elections slated for April 20. A plenary was held in Thimphu yesterday. The incumbent members who are recontesting will have to attend gewog zomdu, which begins from February 24. Six out of 20 elected members are not recontesting. Incumbent members can recontest without resigning, as NC is a continuous house. However, they can be called back to Thimphu even during the election period if important issues arise for discussion. Chairperson and member from Trashigang, Sonam Kinga (PhD), Dagana’s Sonam Dorji, Punakha’s Rinzin Dorji, Kaka Tshering from Paro, Jigmi Rinzin from Pemagatshel and Sangay Khandu from Samtse are not recontesting. Rumours are rife that some of them may join political parties. However, the members said they would remain away from party politics until May 10, when they complete their term. Sonam Dorji, who is serving his second term, said it was an enriching experience to serve in the house for the first 10 years of democracy. “I learned a lot as a member of the house, and I gave my best,” Sonam Dorji said, thanking the people of Dagana for the opportunity. “I will keep the nation and people’s interest in my heart even as I leave the NC,” he said. For Sangay Khandu, it is his first stint as a member of NC. When he contested and won in 2013, Sangay Khandu said he had told his constituents that he would serve one term only. “I will observe a self-imposed cooling off period for 15 days after the expiry of my term to spend time with my wife and children,” he said. “I will decide my next move after that.” Sangay Khandu said he has been unable to give time for his family due to parliamentary works and social works involving his constituents. Asked if he had plans to join party politics, Sangay Khandu said that he would not be associated with any party until the completion of his term as a member of NC, which is an apolitical house. “I am a serving member of NC until May 10,” he said. Jigmi Rinzin, who will also complete his second term, said there were no specific reasons for not recontesting. He said he wants to take rest and see new candidates take up the opportunity. Kaka Tshering said he was happy that many are aspiring to become NC members. “A lot of women candidates have also come forward, and I would like to see some of them elected,” he said. Chairperson Sonam Kinga said he did not want to comment. Deputy Chairperson and NC’s Spokesperson, Tshering Dorji, said that a plenary would be called anytime if necessary although the recontesting members will be away in their constituencies. Tshering Dorji from Haa, who is recontesting for a third term, said it was important for NC as a house of review to take the incomplete deliberations to the next NC. “We discussed on our commitment to uphold the electoral laws to ensure a free and fair election,” he said, concerning the plenery. Tshering Dorji said it was important that the house of review comprised members with experience. “I’m recontesting thinking that my 10 years of experience in law-making and policy reviews would be important for the house,” he said. The deputy chairperson, Gasa’s Sangay Khandu and Jigme Wangchuk from Samdrupjongkhar are vying for a third term. The other incumbents who are recontesting are Nima from Bumthang, Pema Tenzin from Chukha, Tempa Dorji from Lhuentse, Sonam Wangchuk from Mongar, Dhan Bdr. Mongar from Sarpang, Nima Gyeltshen from Thimphu, Tashi Phuntsho from Tashiyangtse, Kamal Bdr. Gurung from Tsirang, Tashi Dorji from Wangdue and Pema Dakpa from Zhemgang. The current members’ term in office will expire on May 9. The third NC is expected to be re-constituted the next day. The election commission has already notified that recontesting incumbents and candidates will be prohibited from using their title, designation, rank, kabney or rachu, pata or geyntag, or any other sign, insignia or symbol of an office held earlier. As per electoral laws, there is no limit on the number of terms an NC member can serve.

Source: Kuensel Online

Nu 20B revenue forgone between 2011-16

A revenue of Nu 19.8B has been foregone from fiscal incentives, tax holidays and exemptions from 2011 to 2016, according to national revenue reports of 2011-12 to 2016-17. Tax holidays on selected sector and tax exemptions on selected commodities were among the government’s initiatives to promote private sector development. While some state owned enterprises and import commodities were given tax exemption even before 2010, the fiscal incentives targeting private sector was first rolled out in 2010. Thus, the revenue foregone has been included in the revenue reports of 2011 onwards. In 2011, the government had to forego Nu 3.02B. Some 33 firms, including hotels, private schools, media houses and ICT firm were granted direct tax exemption on the business and corporate income tax amount to Nu 74.4M. Exemptions from indirect taxes amount to Nu 2.95B. The Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) was the largest beneficiary throughout, reaping a tax benefit of Nu 516M in corporate income tax (CIT) between 2011 and 2016. In 2015 alone, BDBL was granted Nu 117M exemption and Nu 97.5M in 2016. Hotel Taj Tashi also availed a tax holiday of Nu 69.3M from business income tax (BIT) in the same period. However, it has not availed tax break in 2014 and 2015,  while in 2016, its tax holiday amounts to Nu 30M. In 2014, BDBL was granted exemption of Nu 84.5M, Druk Wang Alloys got Nu 27.7M break and Ugyen Ferro alloys availed Nu 13.9M break on BIT/CIT. This is just the tax holiday granted on direct taxation (BIT and CIT). Exemption on indirect tax such as customs duty, excise duty and sales tax were also given. For instance, exemptions on raw materials and plant and machinery were granted for manufacturing units, projects, hoteliers and power and telecommunication services. Tax break were also extended to vehicles procured by all government agencies, public transport services, private schools, projects, tourism industry, international organisations, and quota provided to public and civil servants. In 2011, tax exemption on vehicles amounted to Nu 460.01M. In 2011, the government forewent revenue of Nu 1.33B under general goods procured by hydropower projects, IT park, hoteliers, private schools and GoI funded projects among others. In 2012 the government forewent a revenue of Nu 2.45B on similar account. Holiday on direct tax was availed by 44 firms amounting Nu 94.23M. Revenue foregone from indirect tax amounted to Nu 2.36B. Tax exemption on vehicles amounted to Nu 128M and Nu 765M on account of general goods. Revenue foregone in 2013 through direct taxes and tax exemption on selected commodities under indirect taxes amount to Nu 2.31B. Some 75 business firms availed a direct tax holiday of Nu 142M. Vehicle tax exemption in the year stood at Nu 16.19M because of the import restriction in place then. In 2014, the government forewent a revenue of Nu 2.72B in the form of various taxes, of which Nu 2.5B was from indirect taxes like sales tax, customs and excise duty. The number of firms availing the holiday from direct tax increased to 82 resulting in a benefit of Nu 153M. In  2015, a total of 10,254 businesses availed business income tax exemption amounting to Nu 14.315M as a result of the government’s decision to exempt business in rural areas from taxes. The total amount of revenue forgone in 2015 was Nu 4.92B, which was about 17.53 percent of the domestic revenue in 2015-16. The 2015 national revenue report stated that the amount of revenue forgone increased by 80.9 percent from the previous year. Under direct taxes, 109 business units availed tax holiday and the forgone tax amounted to Nu 145.314 million. However, 11,571 business units benefited from the BIT exemption given to small and micro businesses located in rural areas amounting to Nu 22.25M. Revenue foregone from indirect taxes increased by 86.2 percent to Nu 4.75B in 2015 compared to 2014. The increase was mainly due to the exemption provided to Drukair amounting to Nu 1.04B and to Bhutan Helicopter Service Ltd. amounting to Nu 82.35M. The year also saw an increase in exemption granted for import of vehicles by Nu 492.09M from the previous year. In 2016, the total revenue foregone in the form of exemptions and tax holidays was Nu 4,401.134 million. Of the total, direct taxes constituted Nu 667.73M in the form of CIT and BIT availed by 112 firms. Indirect taxes from sales tax, green tax, customs and excise duty constituted Nu 3.73B. Total foregone amount forms 14.8 percent of the total revenue for the fiscal year.

Source: Kuensel Online