Thinley Namgay  

The government has disbursed Nu 1,813 million (M) through Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) Development Bank and Nu 649M through the National Credit Guarantee Scheme (NCGS) to support CSI since last year.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma at the National Assembly was responding to Khar-Yurung MP Tshering Choden about the government’s policies and measures to benefit small businesses.

So far, the NCGS has benefited 169 people, Lyonpo said.

The MP said that one of the government’s pledges was to formulate policies to develop small and medium economic businesses. “In the current scenario, the small and micro-economic businesses have not benefited and some have not been able to continue their businesses.”

Tshering Choden said that 115 businesses were closed in Phuentsholing due to the fronting issue, and their licenses were also cancelled.

She said that 55 businesses were related to restaurants, bars and small industries.  Moreover, drayang and karaoke business was affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic and such a situation had further widened the gap between the rich and the poor, she said.

As per Lyonpo, 2,984 people registered as cottage businesses this year. In 2020, the number was 1,481. “The government framed a rule in such a way that the people don’t have to pay and need not do much clearance work.”

The CSI Development Bank and the NCGS are the two activities under the CSI flagship programme started by the government in 2019.

Lyonpo said the government started the CSI estate in Tsirang to benefit the CSI businesses and instituted start-up centre in Samtse besides Changzamtog in Thimphu.

“Bhutan showcased 123 products in the Dubai expo.”

According to Lyonpo, businesses in Phuentsholing and Gelephu were hampered by the pandemic, as most restaurant and automobile workers were foreigners.

Lyonpo said that the discussion was underway as to how the government could provide working capital to revive their businesses.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk