Environment:  In a simple traditional ceremony, the second state-owned enterprise in the agriculture sector, Green Bhutan Corporation Ltd, began its operations at a rented apartment in Semtokha, Thimphu, yesterday.

The government approved three corporations in the sector, of which the Farm Mechanisation Corporation Ltd was launched last year in Paro.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said for sustainability the corporation should prioritise income-generating activities such as landscaping, floriculture, and urban greening, among others.

The organisation has a budget of Nu 33 million to carry out its activities in its first year.

The corporation will recruit about 298 more employees by June this year. The corporation has six staff including the CEO.

The corporation has yet to begin its activities as it is yet to finalise its priorities.

The inspiration to establish such a corporation was drawn from His Majesty The King’s message at the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in 2014.

His Majesty The King said: “Where we live must be clean, safe, organised, and beautiful, for national integrity, national pride, and for our bright future. This too is nation building.”

The corporation seeks to make the country greener through annual afforestation and reforestation activities. The organisation will gradually expand to planting flowers and trees in other towns across the country.

The government launched a Green Bhutan Project in March 2014, planting trees near the Thimphu City Gate.

There are currently about 21 government-owned SOEs.

Excluding the new SOEs, the government’s equity investment in 28 companies, in the 2014-2015 budget year amounts to Nu 48 billion (B).

During the income year 2014, the total assets of SOEs reached Nu 213.9B, accounting for 192 percent of GDP. SOEs also recorded a combined total net worth of Nu 88.3B and reserves of Nu 32.4B in the same year.

Contributions from SOEs have been one of the major sources of revenue for the government. However, over the years, the share of SOE contributions to the national revenue are on the decline because of the increase in revenue from other sectors due to diversification of the economy.

In 2014, SOEs contributed more than 41 percent of the total domestic revenue.

The agriculture ministry will launch another corporation for the livestock sometime this year, agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said.

Tshering Palden