Two years ago, Yeshi Norbu returned to his village in Yangnyer, Trashigang, to help his single mother in the farm.

He left to Thimphu, aged 15, a decade ago in search of employment. After failing to find a job, he landed up taking a tailoring course. Midway his training, he was recruited as a machine operator by one of the construction companies in Thimphu.

“Without education, it was difficult to get a decent job,” he said.

After returning home, the 28-year-old was helping his mother with potato cultivation during the day and in the evening earned some money with his tailoring skills.

A year ago, the gewog administration officer informed him of a new loan scheme that was collateral-free. “This was my opportunity and I had to capitalise on it so I applied for a poultry farm business loan.”

Yeshi Norbu is one of the first three clients whose project proposal to start a poultry farm in Yangnyer gewog got approved under the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) scheme in Trashigang.

The dzongkhag PSL committee has so far endorsed 11 loan applications amounting to Nu 20.72 million (M). Of the 11, the banks approved three projects so far.

Two more applications are on the waiting list according to committee officials. One of them is an application for expansion works at one of the oldest automobile workshops in the dzongkhag.

Proprietor of Serzang automobile workshop, Tshewang Namgyel, said that with the expansion of the workshop, he plans to increase employment opportunity at his firm and at the same time provide improved services to the public.

“Today, most of my workers remain idle because there are not much equipment that would keep them engaged,” he said.

He explained he could not terminate workers and if he could get the money to expand, he would procure more equipment that would meaningfully engage them and also create opportunities for others to join.

He has 23 workers of which 20 are Bhutanese.

“Given the financial constraints, we are unable to provide full service to our customers today. Many go to the Indian workshops in Phuentsholing and Samdrupjongkhar,” said Tshewang Namgyel. “I plan to make all types of spare parts readily available and provide better service at a minimal charge.”

“We are very thankful to our visionary King for the insightful thought to benefit our people. We’ll make the optimal use of the opportunity provided,” he said.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the PSL committee, Wangchuk, said that the PSL scheme has received positive response from the clients. “People have come to us on several occasions to seek clarification on the scheme as they were interested.”

He, however, said that some of the clients especially the illiterate face complications while processing the loan. “Generating the credit information bureau (CIB) report sometimes becomes complicated,” he said, adding farmers face difficulties in developing project proposals whose budget is more than Nu 0.5M.”

He said the banks take longer duration at times that deters the interest of the clients.

PSL scheme, which started in January earlier this year, provides loan schemes for agriculture and cottage and small industries (CSI) sector.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang