Trashiyangtse’s Jamkhar-Bumdelling Member of Parliament (MP), Duptho, said the government has established many business ventures after it took office, depriving private sector of business opportunities.

During the question-answer session on May 16, the MP said that business is best left to the private sector and that the government’s role is to create an enabling environment for the growth of the sector.

He asked how the government would develop the private sector when it is depriving them of business opportunities by taking up all kinds of businesses.

Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said it has been a norm in the country for the state to start enterprises that the private sector can’t. “After the successful establishment, it will be handed over to the private sector,” he said.

He cited examples of public transport and tourism, which he claimed were established by the state and gradually taken over by the private sector once it becomes profitable. “The farm machinery centre has changed to Farm Machinery Corporation because the private sector cannot reach every part of the country.”

The minister also said that the private sector is driven by profit and in some areas, supplying machinery is not profitable.

He said the farm shops are temporary measures to market farm produce and cater to the basic needs of the farmers. “The government does not intend to seize business opportunities in the private sector,” he said. He added that the State Mining Corporation is to explore strategic minerals that the private sector is unable to exploit.

According to the minister, there are three factors, which indicate the private sector is thriving and not affected by the government’s enterprises and that since 2013, there are 6,373 small and cottage industries. “There are about 8,000 industry license holders in the country.”

Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said that in 2012-13 fiscal year, the business firms paid Nu 4.8 billion (B) as corporate tax which increased to Nu 7.5B in 2015-16 fiscal year. “In 2012-13, businesses availed Nu 52.4B as loans that increased to Nu 65.7B in 2015-16 fiscal year.”

He said the government has endorsed the economic development policy, which is a roadmap for the private sector development.

The government has also launched fiscal policies, and through Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BoIC) first and now through Rural Enterprise Development Corporation (REDC), offers low-interest loans to start businesses.

Tshering Palden