Minister says private sector vital to improve Bhutan’s economy

The Minister for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk graced the opening of the 29th annual general meeting of Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) on 16th April at the BCCI conference hall in Thimphu. Senior Government Officials, business representatives from dzongkahgs as well as business people attended to the ceremony. One District Three Product Report, BCCI service Rules 2015 and BCCI Annual Publication 2014 were shared during the meeting.

The minister first addressed that estimating by macroeconomic indicators such as GDP, inflation rate and unemployment rate Bhutan’s economy is not in good condition. And to expand the economy the development of private sector is imperative.

“In this National Assembly session, we are going to discuss the Companies Act that needs some changes. Also on the deliberation is an enterprise registration bill. The government hopes the bill will help to give a clear guideline on what type of business the private sector should focus on,” he said.

The minister emphasized that when the government implements business policies it is important to discuss with business people. The motive of doing business is to make profit. And by making profit companies will contribute the country by paying tax and generating employment opportunities. He also explained about the importance of talks between the private sector and the government when there are problems.

There is good cooperation between the government and business people in developed countries, while in some countries economy situation is not very good even they have a great deal of resources. It is due to the poor relationship between the two parties, the minister pointed out. “The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) is finishing a draft of the Public Private Partnership Policy soon. The policy will help government and private work uniformly.” He said MoEA is also working on Bhutan’s business environment as the country ranked at 141st in the 2014 Ease of Doing Business Ranking conducted by the World Bank. The government aims to move up to the 100th position.

The minister also mentioned about the electric charges. “We are aware that the increase of the price of electricity will affect industries. We have tried to work on the problem, but we need to remember that Bhutan Electricity Authority is an autonomous agency to review the tariff,” he added.

Then BCCI President, Ugen Tsechup Dorji made his speech, saying that the private sector’s role is to provide employment, increase export, reduce import and generate more internal revenue. “Therefore the expansion of the sector is very important to the healthy state of our economy. Since the country faces tough problems like the increase of import, stagnation of export and high unemployment we need a straightforward instruction. We would like the government to tell us what type of business we should do or what type we should not.” According to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), there are five important types of business; hydro power, agriculture, mining tourism and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “The harmonization between the government and all these five sectors are very important,” Mr. Dorji emphasized.

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