I became entitled to a Vehicle Quota in 1979. I wanted to buy a TOYOTA Corona sedan. The CIF Phuentsholing price then was Nu.64,000.00. The problem was – I did not have the money. However, the Bank of Bhutan was offering 50% of the cost price as loan which meant that I needed Nu.32,000.00. I did not have that either. So I travelled all the way to Gelephu to speak to my favorite uncle to ask him for a loan. He looked at me and said; “You are asking the bank for 50% loan of the cost … and you are asking me for the other 50% as a loan. This means you are buying your famous TOYOTA Corona car with 100% loan. Tell me, how are you going to be able to repay the loan?” I said; “I do not know.”
He said; “Forget it – I will give you the asking Nu.32,000.00 free – go and buy your car.” Nu.32,000.00 in 1979 was a whole lot of money – but my late uncle loved me dearly.
When I returned to the STCB in Phuentsholing to make my portion of the down payment of Nu.32,000.00, I was informed that I need to put in Nu.34,000.00 and not Nu.32,000.00, because the price of the car had appreciated since I last spoke to them. I was crestfallen – I did not have the additional Nu.2,000.00. Thus my chance to use my vehicle quota to import a car slipped away and that was the first and last time I ever attempted to use a vehicle quota in my life.
Those days the civil servants were of a different vein – they never misused the vehicle quota entitlement for monetary gains.
Much later, after I resigned from the civil service and became successful in business, I became financially capable to own a car – I did own few of them over the years – but I never bought a vehicle quota. I do not intend to begin to do so now.
Truth be told, the most significant segment of my life’s journey began as a consequence of this vehicle quota and my inability to use it – a story to be told another day.
Having posted my article on the Vehicle Quota issue yesterday, I learnt from the KUENSEL that the vehicle quota is being proposed to be monetized. I am encouraged – but not entirely happy with all of the proposals.
It seems that some will still be allowed quota and import of vehicles. It is said that the Ministry of Finance will monitor and enforce the rules strictly. Is this a joke? Are we saying that the rule that the vehicle quotas shall not be sold or transferred was not there already? Has it prevented the beneficiaries from selling them with impunity? In fact the talk going around sometime back was that the MPs had formed a syndicate and had fixed a TOYOTA Prado’s quota selling price at Nu.2.5 million.
I urge the government and the lawmakers to forget this import allocation to some select group of people. I can guarantee you that it will continue to be misused, as in the past. The morality of the Bhutanese people has not undergone a sea change in the last year or so. Recall the shameful incident that occurred with respect to vehicle quota, at the start of the PDP tenure. If the government is in the mood to be generous, allocate a fixed sum of vehicle allowance to this select group of people – but please do away entirely with the quota. No IDEC should be issued ever for import of private vehicles – everyone should pay the duties and taxes. The select group of people for whom import quota is contemplated can use the allowance to pay for the duties and taxes.
Let us begin the process of mending the moral decay that has set in into the Bhutanese morality.
The writer is an ardent blogger and a Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Thimphu.