Nima Wangdi 

The Cabinet has decided to discontinue the Duty-Free Quota system from next month, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said while presenting the State of the Nation (SoTN) report yesterday.

The decision was taken during the 132nd Lhengye Zhungtshog held on November 29.

SoTN report stated that, when reviewed, it was found that differentiated handouts were also misused deflecting from their intended purposes. “The membership had also increased over the years leading to loss of revenue.”

The Duty-Free Shops were started in the 1990s to provide access to consumer goods of third-world origin and selected local products, support the tourism sector of Bhutan, operate as an enterprise on a commercial basis, provide a source of foreign exchange, and provide revenue to the government.

The SoTN stated that with the steady growth of the economy, goods that are available in the Duty-Free Shop are also now adequately available in the open market. This was also one of the reasons for the discontinuation of the quota.

The report under the good governance section also stated that over 2,20,000 consumers have cheaper access to electricity today compared to the Cabinet decision on uniform electricity tariff which came into effect in September.  The 125th Lhengye Zhungtshog decided on the application of a uniform domestic tariff of Nu. 2.66 per unit for all the consumer categories for the tariff cycle – 2022-23 to 2024-25 on August 9.   Consumers who were divided into the Low Voltage, Medium Voltage and High Voltage had to pay different rates per consumption which ranged from Nu1.28 to Nu 4.14 per kWh

The government has also decided to continue and offer subsidies to rural villages and highlanders. Under the LV category, urban consumers will be offered a subsidised rate of Nu. 1.28 for 100 units. For the rural and highlanders consumers, it is fully subsidised up to 100 and 200 units respectively.

“Our job as public servants is to offer services to our people in the most efficient and seamless ways,” the SoTN stated that daily efforts are being put into streamlining and making services as convenient and efficient as possible.

SoTN stated that the requirement of hard copy household or personal information was removed from the passport, birth certificate, notary services, school admission, and simplified business licensing procedure.

Major executive orders pertaining to the closure of Drayangs and Gyadrungs were issued, which invited a lot of backlashes yet did not deter the government from taking bold decisions for the greater good according to the Prime Minister’s SoTN report.

“We have heavily deliberated on a set of extremely important bills that were submitted to the ongoing Parliament session, including the historic Gyalsung Bill, and Bills on civil service, pay structure reform, tourism, and property tax among others,” it stated.