The Chairman Lyonpo Om Pradhan's interview with Bhutan Times
1. What is the primary logic behind Druk Holding and Investments?
According to Royal Charter the following is the logic for DHI:
• Need to safeguard and enhance the national wealth for all generations of
Bhutanese through prudent investments and proper management of such
• Need to build a strong dynamic economy as the foundation for a vibrant
• Need to take advantage of the rapid economic development in India, which has
become an economic powerhouse, and further enhance the close and friendly
relationship with India through economic cooperation;
• Need to conscientiously lead and stimulate private sector development through a
culture of innovation, creativity and enterprise, while preventing the spread of
corruption and other undesirable activities;
• Need to promote the competitiveness of Bhutan’s economy by transforming
companies with government shareholding into efficient and productive companies
that strive for excellence.
2. How will DHI contribute to the Bhutanese economy?
As a holding company with shares in some of the largest and most important
companies in Bhutan, DHI is expected to contribute significantly to the Bhutanese
economy. DHI will oversee the performance of companies providing essential
services like electricity, communication facilities, air services, banking services,
natural resources and improving services in these companies will have a direct
positive impact on the Bhutanese economy.
The investments in projects to be implemented by DHI will provide increased
employment opportunities for the Bhutanese people.
3. How will DHI contribute to the safeguarding of people’s resources?
DHI will ensure that investments made over the years in public enterprises – which
ultimately belong to the people – are safeguarded, promoted and enhanced mainly
from a commercial point of view. Hence, DHI’s focus will be to make investments
and improve performance in the linked companies. It will have full time
professionals to look into these issues. Through careful evaluation and quick
execution of projects, additional revenues can be generated for the Government.
Better management of the linked companies will also lead to additional generation
of revenues for the government. All these will ensure that the resources are not
only safeguarded but will continue to grow.
4. To what extent will DHI have a direct impact on the Bhutanese
• It will improve services to be provided through its companies.
• It will generate employment through investments.
• It will promote private sector development.
• It will set a good trend for corporate governance with no tolerance for corruption
and complacency in its companies.
5. What are some of the weaknesses of the Bhutanese economy?
• Great dependence on external aid.
• Overdependence on the government to drive the economy.
• Slow private sector development.
• The almost non-existent capital market.
6. How will a strong economy help build a strong democracy?
A strong economy and steady flow of revenues will allow elected governments to
pursue their objectives vis-à-vis the people and the development of the country.
DHI as an enduring institution will be responsible for safeguarding the wealth of the
nation for posterity and these provide steady revenues to the elected governments.
A basic requirement of the country is the provision of social services which require
revenues. The stronger the economy the greater the revenues generated, and
correspondingly the greater the ability to provide these social services. With their
basic needs met and ample opportunities available in the economy, the people will
be in a stronger position to participate in building a vibrant democracy.
7. How will DHI contribute to the private sector growth?
• It will liaise with government agencies and provide feedback to facilitate the
creation of an enabling environment for the development of a dynamic private
• DHI will be open to various forms of partnerships with the private sector.
• It will be a trend setter in corporate governance and will act as a catalyst for
improving corporate governance, management, and benchmarking in corporations.
• It will facilitate research and development in areas where it sees potential for
future business and growth.
• It will promote and try to create a strong brand image of Bhutan.
• It will divest shares in select companies to increase private sector participation in
• It will develop business talent which could spread out into the private sector.
8. How will DHI utilize and manage Bhutan’s natural resources?
DHI will make efforts to promote use of renewable natural resources and the
prudent and sustainable use of non-renewable resources in the country.
The Natural Resources Development Corporation which will be wholly owned by DHI
will develop plans based on the short, medium and long terms natural resource
needs of the country. Proper management plans will be developed to ensure that
while natural resources are being utilized they will also be continually replenished,
where possible, so that needs of the future generations are safeguarded.
9. What challenges do you foresee for DHI?
One of the main purposes of DHI, as set forth in the Royal Charter, is to safeguard
and enhance the national resources which belong to the people of Bhutan. With
such a noble objective we hope to receive full support from all the stakeholders, as
DHI’s success will ultimately benefit the people of Bhutan. Some of the challenges
are the shortage of qualified people, poor infrastructure and lack of capital.
10. Where do you see DHI in another 10 years?
I forsee that better management of existing companies and successful investments
will have generated much higher revenues for the Government. DHI companies will
be exemplary in the region for excellence in corporate governance, management
and financial performance. And DHI will have provided critical services effectively to
the private sector and will have worked in partnership with them on several
11. You are a former trade minister. Have you seen any development in the
private sector than what it used to be during your tenure as the trade
During my tenure as Tengye Lyonpo (1985-1998) emphasis was given to private
sector development, especially through creation of greater opportunities. Examples
• Establishment and support to Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industy (BCCI).
• Privatisation of the tourism sector.
• Opening up of Bangladesh trade with full involvement of the private sector.
• Collaboration with the private sector to establish the ferrosilicon, particle board,
and cement plants.
• Training schemes for private sector including schemes to avail financing from
national financial institutions.
• Divestment of government investments like in the case of Bhutan Polythene,
PCAL, brick making units, and others.
• Opportunities to private construction companies in Tala, Basochhu, Kurichhu and
• Today while the private sector has grown immensely, as His Majesty has
repeatedly stated the private sector and the economy has grown without any clear
standards, focus or strategy. The challenges and opportunities facing Bhutan are
vastly different from when I was minister and this requires a new strategic
• Therefore, I firmly believe in His Majesty’s royal vision for the economy and