Lhakpa Quendren

Gelephu—The sale and purchase of land and properties within the planned Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC) will be accepted only after undergoing a thorough review for transaction approval.

While the moratorium on sale and purchase, imposed since July 14 last year, will remain in effect, transaction applications will be accepted and reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to the notification from the National Land Commission (NLC).

This means that sales and purchase transaction applications will be considered individually and evaluated based on specific factors or considerations, rather than subject to a blanket policy.

The additional undertaking letter for the seller states that any potential future increase in the value of the land, after the completion of the transaction, will not benefit the seller in any way.

And the buyer has to acknowledge and accept the risks associated with the purchase of the land, including the risk of expropriation by the GMC or any similar authority, as well as any other form of devaluation.

Banks and financial institutions are permitted to use properties in the GMC region as collateral for loans. However, the valuation of these properties is based on their worth before the moratorium was implemented.

The transactions resulting from foreclosure or auctions, officially approved by the relevant authorities, are allowed to proceed despite the moratorium.

The NLC’s public notification, dated June 10, was widely circulated among residents on social media platforms, creating confusion regarding the addendum.

While the NLC’s director for the Department of Land and Administration and Management could not be reached, the officiating director and head of Rural Land and Administration Section, Karma Tshomo, declined to provide clarifications.

The former Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering, who is stationed in Gelephu, will meet with financial institutions and local leaders today at the Gelephu thromde, where more details concerning the transaction issue are expected to be provided.

The GMC region comprises the Sarpang Dzongkhag, Lhamoizingkha, Karmaling, and Nichula gewogs of Dagana Dzongkhag, as well as Sonamthang, Panbang, and Tungkudemba of Zhengang Dzongkhag.


Moratorium implications

The moratorium on the sale and purchase of land and properties has created inconveniences among loan recipients, as many of them have to rely on selling their land to repay their loans, which is a common practice.

Without any alternative, Sonam Lhamo, a resident of Gelephu, opted to sell her 4-acre land in Jigmecholing or a property with a house in Serzhong to pay off Nu 1.3 million loan. “I could not sell it as potential buyers cited challenges associated with the transaction,” she said.

With the loan deferment period coming to an end, frustrated loan recipients in Gelephu and Sarpang appealed to the banks. The Bhutan Development Bank (BDBL), which provides loans to rural farmers, announced on May 27 that 22 lands in Sarpang are up for auction out of the total 43 available.

According to the sources, the GMC Committee conducted about three rounds of meetings with the central bank (RMA), including financial institutions, concerning this matter.