Tibet TV of Department of Information and International Relations interviewed Kalon Karma Yeshi of Department of Finance, Central Tibetan Administration, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the 15th Kashag.
Following is the English transcript of Tibet TV’s interview with Kalon Karma Yeshi.
Tibet TV: What are the important roles and responsibility of the Department of Finance?
Kalon: The Department of Finance as one of the major Departments under CTA plays a very important function. One of the most important sections in the Finance department is the Budget section.
This section monitors the CTA’s budgetary cycle which includes planning, coordination and supervision. It monitors the budget proposals of each Department and offices under CTA and maintains its overall account. It is also responsible for reviewing budget proposals of all Tibetan settlements and offices and presenting it to Kashag and then is forwarded to Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile for approval. In the last two years, the Budget section has done an excellent work.
Second is the Social and Resource Development Fund (SARD). SARD works towards raising fund for the Integrated Development Plan of CTA and individual projects of various departments of CTA. It seeks grants from International governments for sustainable development of the community, coordinates between the donor agencies and implementing agencies with project planning, management, monitoring and evaluation to ensure effective implementation and sustained benefits from the project interventions.
There are several sections under SARD. First is the Women Empowerment Desk. The Desk has recently come under our supervision. It was previously under Home Department and have been successful in organising the first Women Empowerment Conference.
Second, the Tibet Corps section. Tibet Corps is a volunteer program that offers Tibetan professionals, university students, and retirees an opportunity and platform to serve the Tibetan community through the Central Tibetan Administration. Currently we have 16 Tibetan youths volunteering at various offices in CTA.
Third, is the Tibetan Entrepreneurship Development (TED) Initiative. TED provides end-to-end support for entrepreneurs in the Tibetan diaspora. Through its programs and services, TED helps aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners develop successful, sustainable, and impact-oriented enterprises.
We have successfully organised two major conferences and is currently focussing on initiatives to sensitise public on Taxation.
Last month, SARD has launched the second Tibetan Refugee Livelihood Support Program (TRLSP).
In addition to the existing support for Tibetan sweater sellers, we have introduced three additional livelihood support programs: Tibetans in the business of raising horses and mules for traditional caravan services (Applicable for all Tibetan settlements in India); Tibetans who are running taxi services (Applicable for all Tibetan settlements in India); Tibetans in the business of selling trinkets on pavements in tourist destination (Applicable for Tibetans in Ladakh for this year).
In line with the Five Fifty Vision of Central Tibetan Administration, a project on detailed reviewing of the achievements and areas of improvements in the Department is currently being done. We have over 72 working groups of Tibetan Freedom Movement and Tibetan associations and Offices of Tibet across the world, that collects the voluntary contribution.
We also have a Date Unit that meticulously manages a comprehensive database of green book holders so as to accurately verify the identity of any Tibetan refugee and also to eliminate any data redundancy.
Tibet TV: In the past 2 years, what has been the most important projects of the Department.
Kalon: The most important project in the past 2 years has been the 100 million scheme, a relief to the seasonal Tibetan hosiery and sweater traders, who make up about 45% of the Tibetans living in India.
Through Gangjong Development Finance Private ltd, a non-banking financial corporation of the Department of Finance, a loan of 9,13,00,000 INR was disbursed to 913 sweater sellers for a fixed period of six-months with a relatively low interest rate. We have successfully implemented 45 per cent of our project and is progressing with the 50 remaining.
Tibet TV: During the Budget session in March 2018, we witnessed a series of important discussion regarding the budget. Can you please tell us about that?
Kalon: The March budget session approved a consolidated budget of INR 2,65,25,55,781.00 for the fiscal year 2018- 2019 for the activities and functions of the CTA’s seven departments, autonomous bodies and offices of the Central Tibetan Administration. In comparison with the previous budget of 2,43,98,02,997 for 2017 – 18, this year has seen a tremendous increase. This is due to the vision and leadership of Kashag and the support and dedication of all of us.
Tibet TV: There are a lot of sections under the Department of Finance. Among them, Social And Resource Development (SARD) is one of the most important. What are some of the most important achievements of the section in the past two years?
Kalon: Social And Resource Development (SARD) raises funds for the other departments and offices of the Central Tibetan Administration. It also aims to achieve maximum benefit for the target offices and departments as per the objectives of the donor groups and organisations.
Tibet TV: Earlier, there used to be a separate Planning office under the Central Tibetan Administration. Later, the office is merged with the Department of Finance which have resulted in a Planning commission and planning committee. What are the main functions of the commission?
Kalon: For a long term strategy, planning is very important. The planning should be definitive and should be in tune with the developing trends of the world. Yes, there used to be a separate planning office under the Kashag secretariat. This office looks after the projects of the various departments and offices under the CTA. There are two types of projects. The Planning office assesses whatever projects are received from the departments and settlement offices.
Tibet TV: Fifty percent of the public are females. Therefore, what are the main functions of the women empowerment desk of the department?
Kalon: The main function of the desk is the overall empowerment of Tibetan women and to look after their health and welfare. With these objectives in mind, the section is working regularly. The desk also gives counseling on primary health care for women and implements projects to foster leadership qualities in Tibetan women.
Tibet TV: Last year, the Finance department inaugurated the Gangjong Development Finance Pvt Ltd. For the benefit of the general public, can you tell us what are the main functions of the Gangjong Development Finance Pvt Ltd.
Kalon: The Gangjong Development Finance Pvt is unlike other registered offices and departments of the Central Tibetan Administration. Most of the other registered offices are non-profit organizations meant for public welfare and social work. However, Gangjong Development Finance Pvt Ltd is a for-profit organization. It has been almost one year since it was registered. The main objective of the Gangjong Development Finance Pvt. Ltd is to operate like a commercial bank to serve the economic interests of the Tibetan public.
Tibet TV: What is the Blue Book Solidarity movement? What are its objectives?
Kalon: The blue book solidarity movement is a project to raise awareness about the Tibetan political situation and culture to non-Tibetan friends around the world. It also encourages these friends to contribute 10$ or 20$ or 50$ per annum towards the main trust fund of the Central Tibetan Administration. If we can do that, in the future, the whole expenditure of the CTA will be met through this fund. So, this blue book solidarity movement is essentially to raise funds for the CTA’s trust fund and garner international support for the Tibet movement.
Tibet TV: In the next three years, what are the main projects or functions of the Department of Finance?
Kalon: On its own, it’s unrealistic for the Department of Finance to create a sound economic situation for the entire Tibetan people. Therefore, enhancing the Tibetan economy through the Gangjong Development Finance Pvt Ltd is one of our main objectives. The Kashag has earlier convened a five-fifty conference to chart the political strategy of the Tibetan movement. This year, the finance department is organizing another Five Fifty conference in September to address the development and long-term resiliency of the Tibetan community. A preliminary conference on the subject has already been convened. At that time, home department, department of religion and culture, education department and health department took part.
In the future, we hope to make SARD have direct collaborations with international funding organizations. If that happens, we will be self-reliant with an ability to fulfill all the expense needs of the Central Tibetan Administration. That is our objective.
Similarly, the Tibetan voluntary Green book Contribution is equally important. Other than finance, the green book is an important bridge that connects the Tibetan public and the Central Tibetan Administration. Over 80% of the Tibetans in India, Nepal and Bhutan pay their green book dues. Among Tibetans living in the west, due to time constraints, it has been difficult to get 100% payment. We are also planning to review the Blue Book Solidarity Movement and increase its membership. Besides these, preparing the initial budget proposal is also a task that needs detailed attention and concentration.