Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the Prime Minister’s award of Nu 3 million for the three best films is kept at abeyance as recommended by the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Speaking to the media at the 35th meet the press session yesterday, Lyonchhen said that the government would have nothing to do with it.

“Until the ACC investigation is done, we’ll support the commission,” Lyonchhen said. “As far as we are concerned, until ACC clears it, we will not be in a position to issue the award.”

A week before the National Film Awards last month, ACC wrote to the Cabinet Secretary asking that the PM’s award scheduled on February 23 be kept in abeyance.

The letter stated that the ACC is yet to receive the ATR and reach a logical conclusion on the case. Therefore, giving away the Prime Minister’s award this year would set a wrong precedence.

On November 17 last year, ACC wrote to the CSO authority asking the authority to direct Bhutan Film Association (BFA) to restitute the Nu 3 million-prize money besides taking administrative actions on former board members for the administrative lapses and the flawed process, among others. BFA was given a month to implement ACC’s recommendations.

“In as much as the government supports the entertainment industry and the BFA, we also have demonstrated that we have zero tolerance for corruption.”

He said that the government is not pre-empting the investigation. As long as the ACC feels that the government should not continue the award, it would not.

“The BFA seem to have announced it; that’s their business,” he said.

The idea behind the Prime Minister’s award was simple, he said. The producers requested it because when they win the PM’s award it is easier for them to win international competitions.

“I know it’s PM’s award and not Tshering Tobgay’s. I proposed many names but they said that it would help them,” he said.

Lyonchhen said Bhutanese movies are not released on DVDs as they could be easily pirated.  Earlier, he said that the movies were screened as many times as possible for a year and then locked away.

“It is a big loss because they have put in too much effort,” Lyonchhen said.

That’s why the idea came up to select the top three and give them a year to show it around the country. “The money is not prize money,” he said. “It’s payment to release the films on DVD.”

Tshering Palden