Users of the only automatic teller machine (ATM) in Gasa are unhappy with the removal of the ATM recently.

The Bank of Bhutan (BoB) installed the ATM in March 2013. Last month, the ATM was removed from Gasa town and relocated in Wangdue.

Prior to its removal, a notification was issued to the Gasa dzongkhag administration stating that the removal of the ATM was due to the low transaction and having the branch office run in loss.

To this, the Gasa dzongdag wrote a letter requesting the bank to keep the ATM for the benefit of users in the dzongkhag.

Dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul, stated in the letter that the ATM was used by civil servants, teachers, and tour operators among others.

The letter stated that one of the main reasons for civil servants unwilling to go to Gasa on postings was due to inadequate amenities, which included ATMs.

“This is also one of the reasons for rural-urban migration. We believe, Gasa is growing steadily in all aspects, therefore it is just a matter of time that the ATM will be used enough to make it commercially viable,” the letter stated. “While we fully understand and appreciate the rationale for such a decision, we would like to take this opportunity to submit our case for kind reconsideration.”

The dzongdag said that the dzongkhag has more 200 civil servants today.

The letter was also copied to the Royal Monetary Authority. “The RMA’s response was that they would look upon the issue. However, I didn’t get an acknowledgement on the letter from BoB.”

In the two recent dzongkhag tshogdus conducted in the dzongkhag, the need for another ATM in Damji, Gasa was also raised.

Dorji Dhradhul said Damji was the second most populated area in the dzongkhag.

“But with the removal of the BoB ATM, I don’t think other banks would be willing to install another ATM in the dzongkhag.”

On the relocation of the ATM, BoB officials said that the decision was taken to optimise use of BoB resources based on the changing situation in the financial sector.

The official added that with strong competition in the banking sector, it had become imperative for BoB to continue to remain aggressive through effective use of resources.  “Redeploying ATMs from low use areas like Gasa to high-use areas being one such initiative.”

With the existence of four operational BoB connect agents at Gasa, the relocation wouldn’t inconvenience the customers, officials said.

The bank has also identified other ATMs for relocation if the ATM doesn’t have transactions of a threshold set by the bank.  “The relocation of the ATM from Gasa was discussed and considered for over a year but could be done only recently.”

To the letter sent by the dzongdag, the bank officials said that the bank did receive the letter. “Unfortunately, we did not see a compelling business reason not to relocate the machine so the decision was carried out.”

Phurpa Lhamo