At the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) familiarization meeting yesterday, representatives from the private sector in Phuentsholing underlined several issues related to doing business.

In terms of export-oriented business, Tika Sharma from RSA private limited said Country of Origin Certificate (CoC) has been the problem for some time.

“We need more CoC,” he said, adding that the trade office distributed a handful of CoC booklets.

Due to shortage of CoC, export to Bangladesh is delayed, Tika Sharma said.

Cardamom export from Phuentsholing to India is at a halt since the inception of Goods and Services Tax (GST). The land customs across the border demands certification from Kolkata for every single consignment, which is time consuming.

Certification by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory (BAFRA) is not accepted. This has compelled cardamom exporters to export from border areas Gelephu and Samtse as there are no hindrances from these cross border areas.

Exporters in Phuentsholing have to take cardamom to either Gelephu or Samtse, adding to the cost.

The chamber’s general secretary, Phub Tshering, said that the matter would be looked into.

“We can also identify other markets,” he said, and added that exporters should share details of export with the chamber so it could come up with appropriate market plans. “Nepal and Bangladesh are also market places.”

However, quality is important, Phub Tshering said.

Concerning CoC, Phub Tshering said the chamber would take the issue up to the government. “In other countries, CoC is under the chamber. We need to streamline CoC distribution.”

Phub Tshering said that the chamber would submit to the government and explore if CoC authority could be given to the chamber.

A workshop owner, Karma Ugyen, said space problem for workshop in Phuentsholing limited their interest for expansion.

“My business is located at Toorsa and most of the land has been washed away,” he said. “We will have to vacate anytime from Toorsa area.”

Karma Ugyen said that Phuentsholing thromde has identified Toribari to relocate the workshops. However, nothing has been done yet, he added.

BCCI officials said that it would take the matter with the thromde.

A representative from the BFAL, meanwhile, stressed on the opportunities industries could harness from integrated licences. Industries can manufacture different materials under the same roof with such licence.

“This can let us make quick switch to products to get the benefit of the market,” he said.

Phub Tshering said this matter was already with the government.

Chamber officials informed the business community that the Small and Medium Enterprises loan amount has increased to Nu 300,000 from Nu 115,000. BCCI in collaboration with the Bhutan Development Bank Limited facilitates loans for potential entrepreneurs.

However, Phuentsholing region has not been able to avail of this loan because the non-performing loans (NPL) have touched 14 percent ceiling. Loans can be availed when the NPL drops to eight percent, BCCI officials said.

Chamber’s president, Phub Zam, told the business community to raise issues with the regional office or directly to the head office if they missed it yesterday.

“BCCI is your office,” she said. “Government has always been forthcoming to all relevant issues business communities face across the country.”

Support for training of skilled workers, issues relating to retaining private employees, and opportunities in ICT sectors, among others were also discussed.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing