Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

The business community of Kilikhar town in Mongar are confused as to why they are levied urban tax without having access to urban amenities.

Shopkeepers say if the small town on the Mongar-Trashigang highway is under Mongar municipality, urban infrastructure like streetlights, water, and vegetable market sheds are necessary.

“We’re willing to pay business income tax and business license renewal tax at par with the town if the municipality provides those basic facilities,” a resident said.

A businessman, Cheki, said that the streetlights that were restored during Covid-19 pandemic have become defunct. He said that the streetlight is necessary to deter theft.

“Sometimes, people from the town come to hang out at late night and there is every possibility of committing crimes,” he said.

Another shopkeeper, Tshering said the residents contributed more than two weeks of labour to get their drinking water secured from Chompa although the government supported the materials.

“Except for waste being collected once a week by the municipality truck, even the electricity fee is charged for urban without subsidy,” he said.

He said the shopkeepers in the town should also have the right to nominate a candidate to contest for Thromde Thuemi if the town falls under Mongar town.

“We don’t even have a town tshogpa and we have appointed one ourselves paying Nu 500 per shop annually,” he said.

Residents said they have raised the issue several times to the dzongkhag and gewog administrations but the authorities referred them back and forth.

A building owner recently went to the dzongkhag human settlement office to ask for help to solve the water leakage problem. He said that officials told him to go to the gewog office for the town is under gewog’s jurisdiction.

“When I went to the gewog office I was told it’s under the municipality. Where can I go now?” he said.

He said the next BIT collection and license renewal are approaching and they were worried that they would have to bear the same.

Kilikhar business community said even the well-established town like Lingmethang, once a satellite town, is now a gewog town and the shops were exempted from paying business income tax.

“The bar and restaurant license fee and other business license fee is charged for rural,” a businesswoman said.

Shopkeepers said they have also been paying urban land tax so far.

Similarly, shopkeepers of Yadi town also complained of charging fees for bar cum restaurant and business license renewal fees at the urban rate.

Mongar gup, Tenzin Wangchuk, said the issue is genuine and it was raised in the past dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) session and even the Member of Parliament and National Councilor from the dzongkhag were informed accordingly during the constituency visits.

“I’m also planning to raise it again in the upcoming DT scheduled to be held in February if it remains unresolved,” Tenzin Wangchuk said.

According to dzongkhag officials, Kilikhar town falls under gewog throm and is not entitled to urban infrastructure. An official said Gyalpoizhing is the only approved yenlag throm in the dzongkhag and the rest of the erstwhile satellite towns in the dzongkhag are now under the respective gewogs.

Meanwhile, officials from the regional revenue and customs office (RRCO) said in the absence of former notification from the dzongkhag, RRCO has been collecting BIT as usual as Kilikhar was once a yenlag throm.