Chimi Dema 

In an effort to fast track establishment of industrial parks, economic affairs ministry would set up a one-stop service within a month deploying additional human resources.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said this in response to Shompangkha Member of Parliament (MP) Tek Bahadur Rai’s question on the status and timeline for completion of the industrial estates during the question-answer session at the National Assembly on February 7.

The MP also asked if it was possible for the ministry to expedite the completion of industrial parks.

Lyonpo said that the government would also try expediting approval of business proposals by addressing issues with the environment clearances.

He said that about 44 applicants were given land to set up industries as of now, adding that eight of them were issued licenses.

It was during the 10th Plan when Dhamdum Industrial Park in Samtse, Bondeyma Industrial Park in Mongar, Motanga Industrial Park in Samdrupjongkhar, and Jigmeling Industrial Estate in Gelephu were identified for the establishment of industrial estates in the country.

However, due to incomplete infrastructure at the industrial estates, non-issuance of clearances by various agencies, and bureaucratic hurdles, many applications to set up industries were kept pending.

Lyonpo said that following completion of a detailed project report in 2015, preparation work like providing electricity, temporary water supply and access roads began from 2016. “About Nu 171 million was invested for infrastructure development during the last Plan period.”

However, as no significant progress was made, there is a lot more to be done, he said. “The government is front-loading the projects from the Plan and trying to expedite the completion of industrial parks.”

About Nu 369M was allocated for the projects in the current plan according to the minister.

If at least one or two industrial estates are set up this year, it would drive for the establishment of more industries in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Kilkhorthang-Mendrelgang MP Biman Thapa also asked the minister on how the ministry was monitoring the tax system of online businesses and other businesses like Airbnb that are gaining popularity in the country.

MP said that such businesses are illegal and greatly affecting the legal firms as well as the tax system. “How is the government monitoring as well as planning measures to make such businesses legal?”

Lyonpo said that with the financial sector seeing rapid technological advancement, digital trading practices and e-commerce platform should be encouraged.

“We cannot afford to be digitally locked,” he said.

The minister said that building a legal and regulatory environment was important. “Proper guidelines, policy and tax system should be followed by the digital traders.”

Lyonpo said that the guideline for e-commerce was in place and policy was prepared.

On regulating the tax system, Lyonpo said that it would be administered as per the terms and conditions set in the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020 once it comes into effect.