No gains for private sector from business reforms

The ranking should not be the yardstick to measure the ease of doing business says MoEA minister 

Economy: Further impact of reforms made in the areas of ease of doing business would be visible in a year or two.

The economic affairs minster, Norbu Wangchuk on a panel discussion during the first day of the global entrepreneurship week on November 16 said, the government has challenged itself and put in huge efforts to improve the country’s rank in ease of doing business.

“But rank doesn’t matter,” he said. In the end, he said, the private sector should feel the ease of doing business.

However, he said the case is such that if a tour operator is asked about the economy, the response is positive and when the same is posed to an industrialist, the answer is that the economy is in poor shape.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said it is a complex knot with several difficulties. But an enabling environment, as in smart laws and regulations, he said is one of the three game changers of the country’s economy, the other two being human capital and infrastructure. “But it may take a long time to bear results.”

BCCI president, Ugen Tsechup Dorji who was also on the panel said the greatest difficulty in doing business is lack of harmony between different government agencies.

For instance, he said the five jewels of the economy might be of interest to economic affairs ministry but not to the information and communications ministry or the immigration department and the finance ministry.

“Private sector is the engine of growth without fuel,” he said adding without a clear direction from the government he indicated that it was difficult for private sector to capitalize on its potential.

Earlier, the president said it was the senior bureaucrats driving decent cars and living in big homes. Now it’s the businessmen and in the process, he pointed out evolved a sort of competition between the bureaucracy and business.

“The government is now more into doing business giving direct competition to the private sector,” he said in reference to areas such as furniture business and construction sectors. “We are ready to face the competition provided there is a level playing field.”

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party’s president, Sonam Tobgay said the government is still unable to capitalize on the country’s political stability, which could serve as a brand.

He said the government should focus on big national plans instead of doing many things in bits and pieces.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk highlighted on the five jewels, which are low hanging fruits, pursued to diversify the economy.

He said probably because diversification is not happening at the pace people expected, hydropower sector is often concomitant to putting all eggs in one basket.

“But the hen is not laying any eggs and the only egg wants to come to hydropower basket,” he said.

Although the five jewels have been identified, Ugen Tsechup Dorji said there are no incentives in these sectors. He said availing a mining license is a tedious process, budget for tourism infrastructure is limited, and import of seeds, green house and other agriculture items are taxed.

Tshering Dorji

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