Notice demanding INR meant for traders from across the border

Currency:  Dantak officials in Samdrupjongkar clarified that the notice on their canteen asking customers to pay in Indian Rupee (INR) was only for Indian customers.

The notice printed in bold letters and pasted on the entrance of the canteen was widely circulated on social media with the town’s resident also questioning the validity of the notice. The canteen sells goods ranging from clothes and footwear to grocery items at a cheaper price.

Although the notice had been there for sometime, Dantak officials operating the canteen strictly demanded Indian Rupee (INR) recently. The canteen is located inside Bhutan near the Samdrupjongkhar gate.

A Dantak official said the notification was for traders that come from the border town and not for the Bhutanese. However, the canteen staff said they were just following orders to not accept Ngultrum from any customers.

The official explained that a lot of traders from Darranga, the border town, buy goods from the canteen paying in Ngultrum and then later sold it in India where many Bhutanese buyers buy their groceries.

“If we allow this, it would be like traders come to Dantak to convert Ngultrum to Indian currency,” the official said. “So, to discourage this kind of practice, they were made compulsory to pay in Ngultrum.”

The official also said the canteen was meant only for the armed force and Dantak officials and not for civilians, which is clearly mentioned outside the canteen. “As a gesture of goodwill, we even avail it to Bhutanese when goods are available,” he said.

“We try not to sell to Bhutanese but as soon as we open the shop, Bhutanese customers flock the shop,” official said. “We cannot stop them from buying so, we ask for INR like we do to other customers.”

Meanwhile, dzongdag Gholing Tshering said that the dzongkhag couldn’t intervene because Dantak had clearly mentioned the canteen was solely for Indian labourers and Dantak officials.

“They have their own authority on how to run the canteen and we’ve to understand that the canteen is only for them,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar