Calls it a duplication of existing licensing system

NC: The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has requested the National Council to delay discussions on the Enterprise Registration Bill and direct a competent authority to redraft the Bill in close consultation with the private sector.

The Bill was passed by the National Assembly last session and is in the National Council (NC) for deliberation.

Representatives of the chamber raised the issue during the consultation meeting between the natural resources and environment committee of National Council (NC) and the BCCI recently.

They submitted that the Bill was a duplication of the existing licensing system, which leads to added administrative burden and does not address the problems faced by the business community.

The chamber’s Deputy Secretary General Chandra Chhetri said that the Bill is silent on the enterprises operating in the informal sector such as roadside shops that make profit without registering their business. The chamber feels that informal sector should gradually come into the fold of formal sector so that they can contribute taxes and reap the benefits as business units.

“As the informal businesses are not registered they have no access to micro finance,” he said. “The Bill should have taken informal sector on board,” he said.

Chandra Chhetri also said that the Bill is not in position to supplement the government’s effort to improve the ease of doing business since the Bill prescribes for additional administrative burden for starting a business. “When you talk about ease of doing business, it’s about reducing the administrative burden and easing the business process,” he said.

The Bill states that all enterprises should obtain the certificate of registration from the registrar of enterprises. The main objective, it states, is to ease the process of obtaining permits for people wishing to start small business.

An enterprise, according to the Bill, is an entity operated for profit and owned by an individual as sole proprietorship, or two or more individuals jointly as partnership, unless exempted by the economic affairs ministry.

The deputy secretary general also said the business community perceives the penalties prescribed by the Bill as fairly high. The Bill states that breach of any provision of rule and regulations made under this law, shall be liable for fine up to Nu 50,000.

The Bill also states that any person found conducting business without registration of enterprise will be liable for fine up to Nu 50,000. However, it also states that the law will not apply to vendors, who will not have to be registered under the law.

Enterprises failing to notify a change of address will be liable for fine up to Nu 5,000. Use of an unregistered business names will be liable for fine up to Nu 20,000.

Chairperson of Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Nima Gyaltshen, said the committee was reviewing the issues raised by the BCCI and would further discuss them before the winter session commences.

“We cannot say now that the BCCI is 100 percent right,” Nima Gyaltshen said. “We have held talks with stakeholders and collected their views.”

If the Bill is differed, he said there was a chance that it might lapse. “The BCCI officials said that it is not a good Bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, no new Bill is expected to be tabled in the Council this winter session and the House will mostly debate on pending Bills and committee reports.

Deputy chairperson of the legislative committee Sangay Khandu said that the House has drafted a tentative agenda, but added that they would discuss soon if there are other issues to be incorporated for the session. He said about 70 percent of the members are on their constituency visits today to collect views from the people.

The Bills that will be discussed in the NC are Jabmi (Amendment) Bill 2015, Enterprise registration Bill and Companies Bill 2015 among others, which have come from the Assembly. The NC’s discussions will mostly be focused on committee reports on Hydropower Policies and Programs, Tourism Policy and Strategies and Employment Policies, Programs and Strategies among others.

MB Subba