The Bhutanese license holders have been asked to decide until June this year

Trade: The regional trade office in Samdrupjongkhar and the dzongkhang fronting committee identified 50 shops that are involved in fronting after a recent investigation.

A meeting was held with the 50 license holders (Bhutanese) last Friday where they were briefed on the trade rules. They were asked to run the business themselves or surrender the licenses. The licenses holders have been given until June to decide failing which the licenses will be cancelled. It was also found that some license holders were from other dzongkhags.

Trade officials said they have concrete evidences to prove that it was fronting. “These license holders were issued warning letters in 2012 but haven’t surrendered their licenses yet,” a trade official said. “Despite cancellation of licenses used for fronting, other licenses the individuals hold will also be cancelled.”

The licenses holders, trade officials said also owns shops in other dzongkhags.

Of the 50 licenses, 22 were under the trading sector like grocery, general shops, and bar while the rest 28 were under the service sector like saloon, cobbler, and furniture houses. There are about 650 licenses holders in Samdrupjongkhar including Indians who has registered licenses in their names.

The fronting committee suspects that seven shops of the 50 run by Indians in Samdrupjongkhar are also on fronting. It was found that one of the shops registered in the name of an Indian was run by another Indian.

Although the fronting committee did not have much information on the commission Bhutanese earned through fronting, sources said license holders earn about Nu 3,000 to Nu 50,000 a month depending on the business. Trade officials said the dzongkhag fronting committee would continue to investigate fronting cases to discourage Bhutanese from being involved.

Many shopkeepers lauded the fronting committee’s efforts but said that the committee should also investigate big businesses and not  only focus on pan shops and cobblers.

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar