Local leaders and representatives from lower Chukha questioned the Bhutan Development Bank Limited’s (BDBL) decision to suspend loans to villagers in their gewogs at the fourth dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) yesterday.

Getana gup Kinley raised the issue at the tshogdu.

He said that people have repeatedly asked the gewog administration about the reason behind BDBL’s decision to stop providing loan services starting this year.

“BDBL officials in Gedu said loans were stopped as suggested by the head office,” the gup said, adding that without loan facilities from BDBL, many rural people were unable to start up the projects they aimed and worked for.

The gup also said that the gewog office has been told that the service was stopped due to increasing number of defaulters in the villages.

“But the people, who are genuinely in need of loan services are affected by the decision.”

He said if people do not repay the loans, the BDBL should use the lagthrams (original land certificate), which the rural folks use as mortgage.

Dungna gup Passang said that the villagers in his gewog faced the same problem.

“People who repaid the loans on time have also not been able to avail BDBL loans,” he said. “BDBL officials to whom we reported this matter to said it’s the head office’s decision.”

Maetedkha mangmi shared similar problems in his gewog, saying there are people who had to stop their house construction halfway.

He also said there are youth and other people interested in taking loans and venturing into businesses and projects. “But the halt impacted the community’s growth at large.”

A representative from the BDBL office in Gedu, Cheki Wangchuk, who attended the tshogdu said they would resume the service soon. He said they had to stop providing loans to Dungna because of increasing defaulters.

“About 150 people in Dungna availed loan from BDBL and more than half defaulted.”

Getana, Dungna, Maetedkha, and Bongo fall under Gedu branch of BDBL. About 1,012 people have availed loans from BDBL from these places. About 500 of them are rural people.

BDBL’s branch manager in Gedu, Cheten Lhamo, said that it was a “temporary suspension.”

“We have just stopped lending for commercial loans and other new applications.

Cheten Lhamo said that the suspension was mainly due to increased non-performing loans. “The recovery is not good.”

The branch manager explained that the 70 percent of the deposits they get from public, which is lent out as loans, have already exhausted. She said they need to recover it first as per the requirement.

Cheten Lhamo also said they still provide agriculture loans. “However, the loans are provided with priority, which means performing and repeat clients with clean records are given loans for agriculture.”

She also said they provide only feasible agriculture loans. “Many ask loans for cardamom, which is denied considering the bad cardamom scenario.”

She said BDBL would resume the services by mid June, as the performance improves.

Rajesh Rai | Chukha