It may sound like rubbing salt in the wound, but the Royal Audit Authority’s scathing report on the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries is too blatant to be ignored.
Having entrusted to lead the private sector, the RAA pointing out that the chamber has achieved nothing significant for private sector human resource development in the last three decades is a big blow to the chamber. If its projects did not benefit its members or benefited only a selected few, it is a disaster.
Its most lucrative business- organising trade fairs and expos too is under the audit’s scanner with observations that could shake the foundation of the chamber. It is already questioning its legality. There will be responses, to be fair, and BCCI will explain where it went wrong or if at all it went wrong.
But judging by the report, it is a huge concern for the chamber with a massive responsibility. A lot of attention had been given to private sector development. It was even dubbed as the engine of growth decades ago. BCCI was to spearhead this new idea.
With no more jobs in the government, successive governments had been asking university graduates to look for jobs in the private sector. Today youth unemployment is at its scariest level. How much is the private sector absorbing? It was expected to grow, contribute to the economy and help create jobs. Our private sector is still restricted to only a few big business houses.
Recognising this, there had been initiatives to promote small-scale business and entrepreneurship. In most emerging economies, small scale businesses contribute to economic growth and job creation. The few initiatives the chambers took didn’t work going by the audit observations.
The RAA stripping the BCCI naked through its observations speaks volumes of what is or not happening at the apex body of the private sector. Is it because of lack of professionalism, planning, and market study, research? The questions are plenty.
If red is an ominous colour, the chamber has to do some rethinking. On its website- red all over, its first function is representation- holding dialogues with the government to advocate, provide feedback and represent businesses in fine-tuning policies and legislation regulating the business procedures and practices. In layman’s term, this function is misconstrued for lobbying with the government to protect the interest of the private sector.
BCCI will swallow the findings. It is an opportunity to reshape itself at the right time with new leadership.
With business still seen as a better option, many are getting into the private sector. It should point the hopefuls in the right direction by, perhaps injecting the much-needed professionalism and information support to ensure private sector development.
The trade fairs and the expos are good ideas with bad implementation. As the apex body, it could guide and provide professional services instead of it organising events. Trade fairs should go beyond letting some Siliguri people selling “addibas” or “Niki” shoes or “magic clothes.”