Thinley Namgay  

Economic Minister Loknath Sharma said that despite battling the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry is working hard to ensure continuity of industries, construction works and import of essentials food items.

The ministry had deferred interest payments, demand charges, payments of utility bills such as energy bills for the industries to retain cash flow.

“The ministry has been assisting industries with the working capital so that they can get raw materials and operate their industries at least by 40-50 percent of their capacity and retain their employees. Most of the big industries in the country are still functioning,” Lyonpo said.

According to Lyonpo, the ministry is working to export  goods produced in the industries to ensure cash flow to meet the payments for the employees.

Regarding the shortages of raw materials and labourers in the hydropower sectors, Lyonpo said the situation is challenging, but hydropower works are continuing. “Most of the industries and factories which supply raw materials for our hydropower were shutdown. Before the pandemic, foreign workers went back to their country for the holy festival, but before they could come back, the lockdown started.”

However, he said that with the support of India, Bhutan had been consistently getting crucial raw materials.

“Some construction materials used to be available in the country, but the factories are located at the border areas. Due to the lockdown in India, production has decreased as there are shortages of labourers,” Lyonpo said adding that in earlier days people used to go to Jaigaon to bring raw materials which are not possible at present.

To supply essential commodities, the ministry had divided the wholesalers for every dzongkhag.

“Besides FCB, there are wholesalers who have stocked essentials. We have submitted the list of the wholesalers to the dzongkhags. Dzongkhags have a focal person to deal with this. Shopkeepers should contact the focal person so that they can contact the wholesalers,” said Lyonpo.

Currently, most of the executive members and decision-makers of the economic ministry had been carrying out Covid-19 task force activities in Phuentsholing.