In what could come as good news for an increasingly desperate private sector the government, led by the Prime Minister and other relevant cabinet ministers will meet representatives of the private sector to deliberate on a host of crucial issues from the Credit crunch to Pedestrian day.
The meeting has been tentatively set for 9 November, 2012 with the location at the Bhutan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) Hall, Thimphu.
Minister for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk who will be at the meeting said, “We will discuss the issues which were submitted to the government by the private sector a month back. The issues raised were about liquidity crunch with the financial institutes and Pedestrian day.”
“We will be meeting to consider the above mentioned issues,” added Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.
According to sources in the private sector there could be some concessions on issues of liquidity crunch and possibly on Pedestrian Day as well.
The BCCI Secretary General Phub Tshering said, “This is good news as it shows that the government is aware about the problem and is now collectively trying to resolve issues.”
He said that the private sector was very hopeful that the government would give a decision that would help the private sector.
“We will have relevant stakeholders like people representing various associations, prominent business houses and representatives from micro and small traders and we will not raise too many issue but some key issuess like liquidity problems and Pedestrian day,” said Phub Tshering.
The private sector had earlier this month already submitted two reports to the government. One was a nine page report titled, ‘The Liquidity Problem in the Bhutanese Financial System and its impact on the Economy’ focusing on the lack of credit from financial institutions. The second report that focused on the ills of the Pedestrian days was a 10 page report titled, “Views of the Private Sector on Pedestrian Day.”
A third report which is still being drafted will represent the Industries grievances with issues like excise duty, exemptions etc.
The liquidity issue according to the private sector representatives is an issue which if not addressed early can wipe out or destroy a significant part of the private sector economy. Many companies are coming to a slow halt or end as lack of credit and capital paralyzes their business.
Emotions among the private sector are also very high on Pedestrian day with some BCCI members earlier openly declaring their intention to protest if the government does not heed their voices.
The meeting is expected to have a highly charged atmosphere as a beleaguered and suffering private sector faces a government many feel has not been sympathetic or attentive to them.
A prominent businessman on the condition of anonymity said, “Many in the private sector be it big or small have been suffering for the last many months but the government did little except for making it more difficult to do business.”
Another businessman also on the condition of anonymity for fear of ruffling feathers before the crucial meet said, “The only strategy for both the government and the Central Bank has been to either avoid acknowledging there is a major problem or blame others for it.
The liquidity report apart from highlighting the dire nature of the private sector made several suggestions to the government to get the sector out of this crisis. These include allowing external commercial borrowings for banks and business houses, incentivizing long term savings in banks, allowing formation of new banks, lending to priority sectors, allowing procurement of heavy vehicles, continuing financing of ongoing projects, reviving export promotion credit for exporters, strengthening Tourism sector and reviewing ad-hoc policies in light of the rupee crisis.
The Pedestrian report highlighted the negative impact of the Pedestrian day on sectors like automobiles services community, construction and transportation sector , Hotels and restaurants, retail sector, Export’s sector, Wood-based industries, ICT and Movie Industry.
It came up with suggestions like doing away with Pedestrian day entirely, observing it once a year and imposing it fully for one Sunday every month.