Stockpiling fuel and essential items begins

The government has assured continued supply 

MB Subba

The government has allocated adequate resources for import of fuel and essential items to last for at least six months, according to officials.

Finance Secretary Nim Dorji on April 11 said that the funds had been allocated to boost the fuel reserves at Thinchupangkha in Paro and Dechencholing in Thimphu.

Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) has also been provided 5 percent concessional loan to stockpile essential items.

Governor of the Royal Monetary Authority, Dasho Penjor, said that a fund of Nu 30 billion (B) was established for the Covid-19 response plan and that the banks had started to provide loans concessional loans to affected sectors.

As per the inventory positions of fuel in the country as of April 9, the petrol stock was adequate for 13 days’ supply for whole Bhutan. There was diesel stock enough for six days.

The stocks of subsidised and non-subsidised LPG cylinders were adequate for 13 days’ and 18 days’ supplies respectively for whole Bhutan.

The inventory was presented to the joint parliamentary committee on Covid-19 preparedness on April 10. 

Besides the FCB, 16 wholesalers and large retailers were provided concessional working capital to stockpile essential and other commodities for six months. 

As of April 9, a total of Nu 216.59 million (M) was released to wholesalers and large retailers.

“We are trying to stockpile essential items to ensure that the supply chain is not affected,” economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma told Kuensel.

The total cumulative stock with wholesalers and large retailers as of April 9, was 13,360 metric tonnes (MT).

The ministry estimates that the stock, which does not include that of the FCB, will last for 37 days for whole nation. The government is also providing storage facilities to augment storage of the retailers and wholesalers.

The economic affairs minister informed that a market monitoring and surveillance team and a market price information system each was instituted in all 20 dzongkhags.

The government has launched a toll-free number—1214—for complaints. A GIS is being developed to locate medical and grocery shops.

The government is also working on stabilising vegetable prices.

In the worst-case scenario, the government will identify and register home delivery service providers and their locations. There will a standard operating procedure (SOP) for home deliveries.

Identified groceries and medical shops will remain open based on select criteria. There will be GIS mapping for the identified shops.

Shops dealing in electric cooking stove will be identified to enable people to reduce dependency on LPG-based stoves. The affected areas will go into lockdown in case of multiple locally transmitted cases, according to the government’s Covid-19 preparedness plan.

The government is also trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of raw materials to manufacturing units.

A 10-acre land has been identified to stockpile raw materials and finished products at Pasakha, according to the economic affairs minister.

According to the economic affairs ministry, a team comprising officials from various agencies was in Phuentsholing to facilitate import of essential items and raw materials for the manufacturing sector and export of finished products. 

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