Commerce: Aum Phub Zam, chairman of Yarkay Group, was elected the first woman president in the 36-year history of Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) yesterday.

She was the lone candidate to contest for the post. As she delivered her manifesto to more than 50 business representatives, she spelt out her dedication to take the country’s private sector forward.

“The government and private sector should work together instead of working as two separate entities,” she said. She spoke about the need to strengthen the relationship between the two. She expressed her willingness to work closely with the government and to take on board the voices of the business community.

With presidents of all business associations and two representatives each from every dzongkhag, there were 51 voters. Aum Phub Zam secured 45 “Yes” votes and six “No” votes.

Aum Phub Zam will be the president of BCCI for next three years.

Tandin Wangchuk, managing director of Norlha Enterprise, who served as vice president of Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB), and Tashi Dorji, chief executive officer of Shab Mineral and Mines House, were elected vice presidents.

“We have a dynamic team,” said the chamber’s secretary general, Phub Tshering.

The role is not new for Aum Phub Zam. She was also the first women president of CAB and served her term along with Tandin Wangchuk.

But she said that her role in BCCI and CAB is entirely different, however. BCCI, she said, will demand a lot of sacrifices as it deals with all business associations, businesses of wide range from small retailers to big industries.

“Now, everything is new,” she said, adding that her priority is to study the chamber’s plans. Top on her agenda is to convince the government that it must work together with private sector.

“If private sector is the engine as a separate piece, it is of no use. But if it is used as a part of vehicle with fuel, it will take you to the destination,” she said.

Improving the country’s status of ease of doing business index will reduce bureaucratic red tapes and non-tariff barriers to trade, she said. It is time government looked at it from a different sperspective, she added.

She said she will continue with the chamber’s initiative to improve rural economy. “We have to take everyone on board; the chamber is not only for big businesses.”

Former president, Ugen Tsechup Dorji, said the biggest challenge the chamber face is the fund to sustain itself. Membership fee is small.

He said that business community in the past suggested the chamber to seek government funding. He said it is important to realise the implications it might have on chamber’s policy when government sources the entire budget.

Tshering Dorji