Phub Dem

Besides preferential loan reform, the trading businesses in the country are facing a major crisis due to government’s tendering system.

Ugyen Trading House on November 7 wrote to economic affairs ministry concerning fake authorisation letters in the tendering process.

The letter states that several firms continue to submit fake authorisation letters. The letter mentions forgery related to search and rescue equipment for Punatsangchhu Hydro Power Project-I in 2016, Bank of Bhutan’s tender for CCTV equipments in 2014, Ministry of Information and Communications’ (MoIC) supply of HID card printers and consumable in 2014 and supply of HID card printers and consumables in 2019.

CEO of Ugyen Trading House (UTH), Ugyen Norbu Jamyang, said that many local firms imported restricted goods such as two-way radio communication equipment, vehicles, motorcycles and construction equipment without dealership, specific trade licences and clearances.

He said the authorities concerned had failed to take serious actions against such firms and the traders no longer paid heed to rules and regulations.

“We request the ministry to impose severe penalties to discourage these firms from engaging in such practices,” said Ugyen Norbu Jamyang.

He said that because of such unethical practices by a few, many other firms were also affected. He cited the example of the health ministry planning to purchase the medical equipment directly from the manufacturers because the two firms—KMT and Paras—were suspended earlier this year for forging the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) certificate.

However, Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that he asked the authority concerned to look into the problem and the issue would be taken up with BCCI. “Such practices had been taking place in the country for a long time and we have to ensure that such practices do not recur.”

He said that the ministry would not be able to cancel the licences immediately. “We have to follow due procedure before the cancellation of the traders’ licence.”

Lyonpo added that other ministries were cautioned to be extra careful about fake accusations. “Such things had been happening in the country for years. Economic affairs ministry is trying to create awareness and stop them.”

According to an official from MoEA, the ministry did not have direct power to intervene in such a situation because only the procuring agency was responsible for examining the validity of the authorisation upon receipt of complaints.

He said that the firms must comply with rules and regulations and added that after examination, if the firm is found in the wrong, the procuring agency should propose for new tender and screen out or blacklist the firm.