Business has been on the slump for meat vendors after the import of beef and pork from India was stopped due to a hike in meat prices. However, there will be a meeting conducted with concerned agencies to discuss the issue on the price hike and import on Tuesday.
A representative of the meat vendors’ tshogpa, Mahindra Ghalley, said that they were verbally informed by the Bhutan Chamber for Commerce and Industry (BCCI) that coming Tuesday there will be a meeting conducted to discuss the prices of meat. The meeting is expected to gather representatives from the police, agriculture ministry, dzongkhag and trade officials along with BCCI and meat committee members to find ways to resolve the issues.
Ghalley said he is not sure whether the meeting is really going to be conducted on Tuesday as there was no written information, but the tshogpa is hopeful that the meeting will take place to discuss the issues.
“I am not sure whether only meat committee will be attending the meeting, or else we were also thinking to take all the meat shop owners to the meeting as well so that they can individually raise the issues and problems they have been facing until now after the import of meat has been stopped because of hike in prices,” he said.
One of the meat shop owners, who did not want to be named, said a chance to participate in the meeting will help to raise issues, share views and opinions and find solutions. “We can’t
wait for long, we are already affected since there are only 20 days left for us to run the business, and then comes the auspicious month where the meat shops have to remain closed,” he said.
Mahindra Ghalley said it would be more convenient and appropriate for the meat shop owners to share their issues in a meeting with concerned agencies rather than sharing their grievances to him alone. Attending to phone calls from the meat shop owners and customers is a daily routine for him.
He said other places like Paro are doing good business even with the price hike. For instance, pork which cost Nu 200 per kilogram from suppliers in India is being sold at Nu 220 per kilogram in Paro. “Business out there is not hampered at all, but here, we are still out of meat, and cannot import meat and sell at those prices,” Ghalley added.
Ghalley said the increase in the price of meat in Paro was approved with the permission of the people there, but the tshogpa in Thimphu is late in seeking permission for an increase in meat prices. The meat vendors say meat prices are fixed by the government, and so they are barred from setting their own meat prices, and therefore, cannot sell at a lower or higher price, as and when the price fluctuates in India.
They say meat is not a food commodity that everyone eats or made mandatory for the people to consume because some are vegetarians. The vendors say the consumers have the choice to buy or not buy meats irrespective of the price.
In Thimphu alone, there are more than 50 meat shops.
Tashi Deki / Thimphu