Yangyel Lhaden

About 33 officers working in the 10 departments of economic affairs ministry have started patrolling in Thimphu to ensure business operators follow the government’s directive and close their businesses on time.

The officials, who started the patrolling since December 4, also conduct advocacy and inspect licences of the business establishment every night.

Trade officials said that the 33 officers are divided into separate groups to cover Thimphu thromde, and adjacent areas such as Khasadrapchu, Hongtsho, and Kabesa complimenting police and de-suups on duty.

Deputy chief trade officer, Dhurba Giri, said that although it was the responsibility of trade officials to ensure business entities closed by 9pm, the help from ministry officials came as a great help as they could not cover the large area with only 14 staff.

He said that the mass inspection was helping regional trade office to nab illegal business operators. “Through this patrolling, we will ensure business owners operate business as per the licence issued to them.”

It was learnt that after the patrolling started, officials caught about six business operators daily for violating rules.

“Business operators are found to operate without trade licence, mostly bars operating on other people’s licence which is not a bar licence,” Dhurba Giri said. “The team also came across licence which needs renewal.”

He said that most people did not renew licences on time although online licence renewal system was slowly picking up.

He also said that since bar licence were not issued, business operators were found to operate bars with other people’s  licence such as restaurant. “This is not allowed as per governments’ rule.”

On December 5, Thimphu police arrested a restaurant owner operating a bar in an extension room without restaurant licence nor bar licence after 9pm.

Dhurba Giri said that offenders had to pay penalty as per the Bhutan micro trade, retail trade and wholesale trade regulations 2006. Defaulters with expired licence have to pay penalty of Nu 20 per day.

Mass inspection started in Wangduephodrang since December 7 and it would also be conducted in other dzongkhags under regional trade offices of Thimphu- Paro, Punakha, Gasa, and Haa.

Meanwhile, the team from the ministry would continue the inspection until further notice from the ministry.