Ever since the department of trade and industry under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) launched the 19 kilo Bhutan industrial gas (BIG) gas cylinders, hoteliers started to complain about its price.
Many hoteliers The Bhutanese spoke to complained about the price of the new gas and expressed disgruntlement over it.
T.N Sharma, the Manager of Hotel 89 said “the cylinder is very expensive for refilling so we request the government to revise the price of the gas for the affordability for the people”.
In agreement with the manager of Hotel 89, Rai, Manager of the Yeedzin Guest house said, “If the government could give some more time to use the new cylinder it would have been better since the guest house is under renovation but the trade officials said it is compulsory to fit the new cylinders at any cost”.
One of the hoteliers from Thimphu seeking anonymity said “it is very risky to use the new cylinder as it has high pressure and there are chances of it exploding. We are also told to surrender the old cylinders if we don’t use the new ones”.
“Some can afford to buy but what about the small restaurant owners because the price is very high and the penalty is also high. If we use it we lose our customers as the menu price is too high. Now with the expensive cylinders and high grocery prices we cannot effort to sell the food items,” she said.
She also said that there was no consultation with the hoteliers with regards to the new gas cylinders. “We were notified about the new gas through the media. We are not even given the option whether we should use it or not,” said one.
Meanwhile, Hari Maya, 33 who runs a small restaurant near the Norzin lam said, “My license was taken away once when they came to visit my hotel seeing that I have not used the new cylinders and my old cylinders were also seized”.
She said that big hotels can afford to purchase such gas but what about poor people like her.
Previously, it cost Nu 491 to refill a 14.5 liter gas cylinder but it costs Nu 2025 to refill the 19 liter cylinder.
Many restaurant owners and hoteliers are requesting the ministry if it could come up with some changes or reduction in the prices.
Dungto, the regional director of trade said “this is commercial gas and we do not have subsidies from the government of India as we have to pay the full amount of it”.
“The number of cylinders given by the government of India to our country is very low and the number of restaurants and hotels are becoming higher and the gas price itself is very high from the refilling plant,” he said.
“There are no benefits for the government from this new introduction of cylinders as we introduced this just to meet the local environment and so there is nothing to discuss with the hoteliers,” he added.
The regional trade director said “They will be imposed Nu 10,000 fine if they violate the rules”.
Sonam Wangmo / Thimphu