The bottled water project that was proposed in 2010 as a joint venture between Druk Holding and Investments (DHI), and Carpenter and Company (C & C), a Boston-USA based firm has seen little progress since then.
DHI officials say that C&C carried out a valuation of Bhutan Agro Industry Limited (BAIL) with which the company wanted to run a trial basis of the scheme, and that the report has been submitted to the finance ministry (MoF).
Asked about the project, the Managing Director of BAIL, Gyem Dorji, said he is not in a suitable position to comment as the proceedings were routed through the finance ministry and BAIL is a state-owned company under the ministry.
However, the consultant of C & C, Ugyen Lhendup, said that the company has put up a proposal to DHI but the MoF and C & C have not come upon a mutual agreement on the amount that the company will pay to the ministry if it takes over BAIL.
“So we are still waiting for discussions to be held but we don’t know when.”
He added that though the ministry refused C & C’s offer, it does not want to shelve the project.
The first round of discussions between the two on the valuation of BAIL was reportedly unsuccessful.
But officials from the ministry had a different story to tell.
They said the ministry did not have any discussions with C & C, and that DHI still has to come up with a proposal and submit it to the finance ministry.
However, Bhutanese private companies involved in similar businesses apparently objected to the proposal saying there would be room for monopoly if the project comes through and this is banned under the Bhutanese constitution.
In the initial stage the Carpenter and Company wanted the exclusivity of the period of time for the market to be given to them. They wanted to take it to the International market level but DHI was not in favor to create that kind of exclusivity as they didn’t want to give the market to one particular investor.
Then DHI planned for the local presence for a trial run in the local market of Bhutan only so they propsed to Bhutan Agro Industry Limited so that they can see the feasibility.
To establish a local presence in Bhutan, C&C submitted a proposal to Ministry of Finance (MoF) to partner with Bhutan Agro Industries Limited (BAIL), currently under the MoF.