Loan seekers are irate at receiving no word on, let alone funds from, their applications

Loans: Local government leaders in Bumthang asked the Business Opportunity and Information Center (BOiC) to clarify if loans the villagers had applied for months ago will ever be released during a recent dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) session.

The issue came up for discussion after BOiC failed to release loans even after the onset of the potato cultivation season.  Most villagers had applied for loans for non-formal rural activities, which is Nu 100,000 to either buy potato seeds, fertilisers or a Jersey cow.

In Ura, 143 people have applied for the loan, and a little over 200 in Chokhor.  Over 194 people have applied from Chumey, mostly for Nu 100,000, and about 150 have applied from Tang.

“The villagers are undergoing lot of problems, as BOiC has failed to release the loans even now,” Ura gup, Dorji Wangchuk, said.

According to local leaders, as BOiC loans failed to come through even by January this year, people had to undergo numerous difficulties in applying for loans from the Bhutan Development Bank limited (BDBL).

“Some applicants didn’t get response even after filing the forms twice, after the initial forms were found missing,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Chokhor mangmi, Tashi Wangdi, said that some applicants, dissapointed by the lack of response, even travelled to Thimphu to check their loan status.

“Even the villagers, who applied for loan as early as October 2014, are yet to get a response,” he said.

According to local leaders, the applicants are now increasingly pressurising the gewog offices to explain why BOiC is taking this long to release the loan.

“Until now, none of the applicants, who came to the gewog said of getting any loans yet,” Dorji Wangchuk said, adding people are also asking the gewog office to refund Nu 100, that the applicants paid while filing the forms.

The local leaders also shared instances of applications lying in BDBL for months, besides some going missing.

“When the applicants asked BDBL, it says that the forms were forwarded to BOiC, while the latter denies receiving any,” Tashi Wangdi said.

DT chairperson, Sangla, said people also complained of being asked to produce more documents than initially asked for. “The applicants also complained of being asked to produce a legal counsel when filling out the forms for the second time,” he said.

The villagers also claimed to be mandated to produce a letter from the dzongkhag agriculture officer. “Those applying to buy cattle are also asked to produce an agreement between the buyer and the seller,” Sangla said.

Local leaders also shared their surprise on the loan recipients being asked to repay the loan in three years, and complained of BOiC denying the full amount of loan  “Even those who got loans are asking why Nu 65,000 of the Nu 100,000 was given,” Sangla said.

BOiC attributed the long waiting time to the overwhelming number of applications received.

As per BOiC, the ratio of BOiC employee to number of applications it received stands at 1:350.

“The long wait is also attributable to the applicants submitting proposals without adequate documents and information,” BOiC’s head of public relations and media, Sonam Choden, said.

According to BOiC, the disbursement of fund is based on stages of the project, depending on how the project takes off on the ground. “It’s necessary to process, to monitor the projects, and the end use of the fund disbursed,” Sonam Choden said.

On the repayment, BOiC said that the maximum period for repayment is 10 years.

“The repayment terms of the funds, however, are fixed, depending on the nature and the income from the business,” Sonam Choden said.

As for the documents, she said that the verification letter and other proof documents are asked for validation and confirmation.

Meanwhile, BOiC did not mention whether the applicants would get the loans.  In March this year, 195 of the 401 projects received from Bumthang were approved according to BOiC.

By Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang