Left: Lyonpo Karma Dorji (MoICE) Right: Tandy Wangchuk, President of the BCCI

Private Sector calls for improved policy support to drive economic diversification

Although hydropower and tourism are major income generators for our country, however, economic diversification is a strategy seen as pivotal step to reduce reliance on a single source of income. It involves expanding and developing various sectors of the economy to create a more balanced and resilient economic structure.

Tandy Wangchuk, President of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) emphasized that the Private Sector can effectively contribute to diversification, provided there are sufficient access to financing and ease of doing business.

“For the Private Sector to venture into diversification, the policy needs to be in harmony. It is not the reluctance of private sector but the government’s need for a well-defined documentation,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo Karma Dorji, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) said, “The government is providing enough for them like land, labour and capital, however, it depends on how the Private Sector puts it up.”

Currently, the government has various policies aimed at supporting the Private Sector.

A notable example is the licensing process for charcoal business. Under MoICE, economic diversification policy, charcoal production is a high-priority sector. While MoICE grants licenses for operations, the process involves obtaining sectoral clearance from Forest, which is often challenging to secure.

“Regarding the procedure to obtain license for businesses, the government has made it simpler. The government has made it more convenient for the Private Sector where they have put up 9 policies Act into 1 policy Act, which has reduced lots of administrative procedures. As for obtaining charcoal license, since the factories have harmful impact of the environment there should be clearance from the community because of its impact on them.”

To foster a thriving private sector, addressing the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy is important. The BCCI has already attracted investors from Finnfund, members of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of Trade of Thailand.

“As a country which is carbon negative, we can do carbon trading. We can sell our carbon negativity to the countries that has exhausted their carbon credit. The market for our products can be Geographical Indicator (GI) which can be 20 times more than the actual price with the Brand Bhutan. We can also extract fertilizers from ammonia as organic framing which has huge value and also from bio-economy where we can produce goods from herbal plants. These are some of thing which can be used for economic diversification of the country,” Lyonpo added further.

The government is working on economic diversification of the country by promoting commercial farming for the farmers, promoting tourism with the Brand Bhutan as a wellness center for the tourists, mining crypto currency and encouraging Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) entrepreneurs by providing trainings, grants and facilities. Currently, there are CSI markets in Perth, Australia and New York, United States of America. The government is planning to open CSI market in Singapore, Bangladesh and China as well.

The DHI has completed work on the National Digital Identity software, and started exporting crypto currency software.

The government said they are also working on the Green Hydrogen fuel which can be used to generate clean energy fuel.

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