Phuentsholing thromde tshogde resolved that it will not entertain any licenses to start new drayangs and karaoke bars until further notice during its second thromde tshogde yesterday.

The decision comes after the thromde’s entertainment licensing committee put an indefinite suspension on the issuance of such licenses.

During the tshogde, officials said that the existing number of drayangs and karaokes were enough to cater to the population of Phuentsholing town. There are eight drayangs and 15 karaoke bars today.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said there was no need for more drayangs and karaoke, as there are lots of social issues related to it operations. He said that the thromde would look at licensing in future.

The thromde tshogpas also agreed that there was no need for new drayangs and karaoke bars in the town.

However, an observer at the tshogde, Sangay Dorji, said that suspension of licenses meant stopping people with genuine interest of running entertainment businesses.

“Drayangs already faced timing problems in Phuentsholing, as shops are asked to close early when the business is at peak,” he said. “Drayangs were allowed to open until 1AM as per Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA).”

He said that if interested people fulfill the required criteria, they should be allowed to operate drayangs.

The thromde’s executive secretary, Wangchuk Thaye, said that the thromde was aware of the timing issue but they implemented the present timing, as most drayang employees live across the border. “We have to follow the closing timing of the gates at night.”

Thromde officials also said that it is risky to cross the border late at night and that they would extend the timings if the drayang workers live within the country. Licensing would be considered, they said, only if the people found it necessary.

Wangchuk Thaye said that until and unless it is really important for the public, they would not allow any new drayangs and karaoke.

As all the existing drayangs and karaoke bars are in the main town area, officials also said that future consideration would be given if proposals from other thromde areas were made.

Meanwhile, the five-thromde tshogpas also tabled other issues from their demkhongs.

Pasakha tshogpa Prabhat Rai said that the people from Pasakha are requesting for a bank and an ATM machine. “People are asking for a Bank of Bhutan branch office.”

He said that Pasakha is the biggest industrial estate in the country and it has the potential for a bank. “Today most people from the industries and nearby villages travel all the way to Phuentsholing for banking services,” he said, pointing that travel expenses and time could be saved if a branch office opens in Pasakha.

Although there is an ATM in Pasakha, Prabhat Rai said it is not functional most of the time. “One more ATM would benefit the people,” he said.

The tshogde also signed their annual performance agreement.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing