Sunday, August 24, 2014

Exporting Cordeceps, The Dilemma of Bhutanese Millionars

Picture Coutesy: Lhendup Tharchen
In Bhutan, collection and trade in cordecep was legalized in 2004. The Royal vision behind this initiative was to bring economic blessings to the Bhutanese nomads. To keep this business exclusively for highlanders, the collection of the same is strictly monitored. After fixing the minimum royalty, the seasonal collection permits are issued by the Government to each households. This, I believe this is more to do with sustainability of the good. Thanks to the insatiable demand from the outside world, the good has become the most sought after items for export. Since then, the bizarre fungal plant that has the potential of earning millions for highlanders annually has become a trading commodity.

In ten years time, The business in cordecep boomed. With boom came structural changes. It became an investment avenue for many Bhutanese millionaires!  No doubt about that. But this boom also attracted many third parties. In most cases those third parties are nomads themselves. I call them the "easy pickers". What easy pickers do is an interesting thing to behold. They transport necessity items like salt, rice, oil, liquors and vegetables and then barter them with cordeceps painfully collected by their nomad relatives. There are often instances where an actual collector had to surrender his entire collection in lieu of the price for the amount of necessities he availed.

I am thinking that a ration delivery helicopter could prove a real blessing here. Perhaps PDP government could think more on it. But for now, it is doubtful as to whether the trade worth millions of Nu. is really benefiting the needy nomads? 

All cordecep collected in a given period are then sold off  to the exporters in an auction. Since those exporters deal in millions, I call them Bhutanese millionaires. This is again an affair closely monitored by the Government. Hence the real process of transferring the goods to the international market begins. In Bhutan, some official documents like Certificate of origin, commercial invoice, sanitary certificate and Customs export declaration are mandatory. 

As for Bhutan, the major market for cordecep are China, Taiwan, Hong Hong, and Malaysia. Since the cordecep is not a duty free goods in those countires, the real dilemma of  exporting begins here. Contrary to the normal international trade regime, here is what Bhutanese exporter and International importer do. They make a deal which is as bizarre as the fungal plant itself. 

To evade the the applicable duties in the countries of Exportation, the exporter and importer both travel till Thailand. (one to reach the goods and other to pick up the same) There is another hurdle here. They have to evade Thai Customs duty as well. In the process, Bhutanese millionaires and international importers are making legal business illegal.  In the past, some may have gone lucky. I think they  must have made fortune through  such deception.  

But in recent past, Thai authorities have come stronger with their enforcement capability. There are instances where authorities have intercepted Bhutanese exporters for non declaration of the goods. There are also instances where cordeceps worth millions of Nu. are directed back to Bhutan, causing a lot of inconveniences both for Customs officials and for exporters themselves. Therefore as a concern Bhutanese, I would like to make the following pleas to our millionares who are in cordecep business.

Firstly, such act may distort international trade figures. Please avoid such practices 

Secondly, it tarnishes our National image. Such acts may lead to other Customs administration labeling us as people of High risk

Thirdly, Non declaration in most case is a crime

Fourthly, Cordycep is not contraband or prohibited item in most of the countries. Especially in Thailand, The concern importer should have proper import permits/license from Thai Authorities i.e. Food & Health Control Organization (FHCO) under Ministry of Public Health

Fifthly, It is levied 30% Custom Duty, roughly equivalent to Thai Bath 200,000/ per KG (depending upon quality assessed

Sixthly, Be mindful that if illegally imported, any goods will be confiscated

Seventhly, If the confiscation is challenged in any manner, the case will be forwarded to Thai Airport Police, which may result in detention of both goods and person

Eightly, While goods may be confiscated, the person may be charged for attempted criminal act

Ninthly, If found guilty, person shall be punished with imprisonment plus the fines and penalties that exceeds 130% of the goods seized

For more details visit Thai Custom webpage


Before, I close this post, I am anxious with the following points

I am anxious about the amount these exporters are paying to our Government exchequer as Business Income Tax.

I am anxious about the level of information sharing with relevant agencies on the issue and the overall transparency of the business

I am anxious as to whether the nomadic people are really benefiting from the trade...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Things To Consider Before Buying A Smartphone


Sage  Harman

One lady from USA, Mrs. Sage Harman, who describes herself as "frugal living enthusiast, wife and mother" wrote an email to me. She wrote to me about her wish write a 'guest post' on my blog. "Things to consider before buying a smart phone", i think is relevant topic, especially if you have means and plans to acquire one. She also runs a a web (http://www.no-contract-plans.com) dedicated to providing free information to consumers trying to find viable no-contract phone and internet plans. Please read her article below:
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Nothing quite beats the feeling of unboxing a brand new mobile phone. Smartphones have become an essential part of our everyday life that most handsets today offer quite the same functionality as computers, capable of not just making calls but also managing emails and schedules, playing music and games, getting directions, surfing the Web, sharing information with friends, taking videos and photos and more. With different carriers and phone makers offering great deals and new features and apps popping up left and right, picking the right device for you can be rather confusing. Remember, smartphones and coverage plans aren't cheap, so taking the time to do your research and reviewing your options are well worth it.


Platform

Google's Android, Apple iPhone's iOS, and Microsoft's Windows Mobile so far are your most popular options. Some people find that the Android system is more customizable and versatile. Others prefer iOS because of Apple's extensive collections of apps. Some say Windows Phone are more user-friendly. Apart from the programs and features and availability of apps on these platforms, you probably won't notice a lot of differences in how they each operate, so make your choice of operating system based on what you value most - flexibility, security, user-friendliness and customization.

Physical Appearance

Some people like it thin and sleek, some like it big and heavy. Phones with larger screens are great for lots of things - web surfing, playing videos and games and watching movies, but they can be a tad uncomfortable to carry. In my opinion, for portability, functionality and ease of use, a screen size of 4-5 inches hits the mark.


Camera

Most smartphones come equipped with cameras capable of taking 8MP pictures. Don't think though that more megapixels means better pictures. If you're after a good camera phone, also consider the lens, sensor, resolution, zoom, shutter speed and other capturing features.

Battery Life
Smartphones, with all the amazing things you can do with it, also require greater power supply. You might want to get one that comes with at least 2000 milliamp-hour battery, or better yet, one that has a user-replaceable battery.

Apps

These are free or paid programs that you install on your smartphone to perform different functions. Almost all smartphones have the ability to support applications. Popular apps include mobile hotspot, health monitor, scanner, GPS device, TV and video apps, games and more. It's important to consider your phone's compatibility to apps because not all apps run on all devices.

Other Considerations

Storage Capacities

8 to 16GB may sound plenty, but if you're planning on playing full HD movies for example, get one that has higher memory. If you think you would need more storage space, buy one that supports microSD cards.

Connectivity

Will your portable device support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Mobile hotspot?

Plans

<a href="http://www.no-contract-plans.com">No-contract plans</a> may seem more expensive as you will need to purchase the phone upfront. But these pay as-you-go prepaid plans are simple and straightforward. It means no credit checks and no lock-in period. Plus you can save money in the long run because there are no hidden charges or termination fee should you break the contract early.

With new releases of smartphones screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!", having too many options, though it means more chances of ending up with the right one for you, also makes it almost impossible to make a decision. You sure don't want to spend a lot of money but you don't want to miss out on important features for a small price difference either. If you're in the market for a new mobile phone, head on over to http://www.no-contract-plans.com to compare plans and get free information on various popular smartphone plans.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Human Sanity

Its August 2014 and I am happy to discover that my anger with pay and tax revision has finally died down with memorable July. Actually my anger meant nothing. Its my act of venting out frustration. If not on people, at least on my personal blog, I have displayed my displeasure. If people, especially our politicians are offended, then I am helpless. Please help yourself by leaving my blog.  I suppose this is how an enraged child would behave with his problematic promise making mother. I am happy for being able to put my anger on my blog. I am satisfied. No warning letter from my boss this time. So I am more happy. Seems human sanity is reigning this time.

Elsewhere in middle east, human sanity seem to have dwindled to the the lowest possible point. Perpetual Hamas-Israeli conflict has re erupted and thus the bloody fight ensues. Hiding Hamas and shooting Israel are both to be blamed. However at this time, the disproportionate use of force by Israel against the Gaza Strip is really appalling. In the name of protecting their citizens, Israeli forces, I think are committing a genocide and war crimes. Thousands of innocent children, women and men are trapped and are dying a painful death. Israelis say they are targeting Hamas tunnels. If that be the case, why have they shelled on residential apartments and school buildings?


I have never been to Middle East. But from the reports I read and hear, it makes me think that people there are born not to die but to be killed by each other. Lately, Palestine artist named Bushra Shanan, in memory of what is lost and destroyed has created several art pieces. It illustrates grim and desperate reality in Gaza. All the images contain a powerful message. view other images here. But as a father I am deeply saddened to see one art piece (above). It shows how a single cruel explosion is taking away so many lives of beautiful children. Its unthinkable. With this post, I stand here to condemn neither Israel nor Palestine, but killing. Killing for any reason cannot be justified.

Here is a lesson for leaders of Palestine and Israel. There never was a winner in wars. All people suffer equally. Death is miserable reality. Shelling cities will not win you wars. Suitable dialogue and understanding will. May peace prevail in Middle East.

Thanks to Human (in)sanity, global politics has reached a menacing level. Super powers are playing politics with human lives. The manner in which the flight MH017 crashed shocked the entire world. But with passing time, 298 people who perished in eastern Ukraine are becoming nothing but a painful memory like 239 others who disappeared without a trace in flight MH370. USA or Russia, its hard to contemplate who is more evil.

Call it a human sanity or insanity, in India, some Natwar Singh has created quite a stir in Indian politics. As per the information I gathered about him, he is a  former Indian bureaucrat and a close friend of Gandhi family. He changed 4 political parties including the Congress.  But unfortunately he was dropped from the party for his alleged involvement in some high level corruption cases. Natwar Singh tells that Sonia Gandhi was instrumental in taking that decision. He has a son who is now in BJP.

Today, he has reportedly gone angry with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Feeling mistreated and humiliated, he has come out with his own "tell all" autobiography, titled "One life not enough". As per the penal discussion on NDTV, The basic motive of the book, it seem is to take revenge on Sonia Gandhi by disclosing the internal affairs of the not only Congress party but also that of Gandhi family. Why would a statesman of his caliber do such a petty thing?  Some call it a biased book while others cal it a work of genius. In between, confused and baffled, some Congress men are now asking where the gentlemen in Natwar Singh has evaporated.

Personally I take two things from this case. 1. In politics, there is no friend.  2. Natwar Singh is an old man now. Old man is twice child. So do not get worked out with his kiddish words (if you are a Congress man)

lastly, human sanity or insanity, scientists have found out that ladies will always find a man with dog more attractive than men with baby. Therefore mothers should make scientists accountable if fathers are not willing to move with their babies.

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