Since there is a limited supply of meat in the market, the meat vendors in the country are worried that they might not be able to pay the rent for their meat shops with the business gone down. The minimum rent for the meat shop space is Nu 50,000 and maximum is Nu 150,000 in Thimphu.
Meanwhile, The Bhutanese talked with few of the meat vendors who are operating their businesses in Thimphu, however, they did not want to disclose their identity for fear of offending their landlords.
Most of them shared that they are struggling to sustain with the money they are getting from selling the limited stock of meat. They are using their savings to pay the meat shop rent and the salary for their staff.
An owner of one meat shop in Thimphu said that since the meat is hardly available she is afraid that if situation prolongs she won’t be able to operate the business as the rent for meat shop is high and she has to pay salary to her staff.
“For a small space, I have to pay around Nu 100,000 and around this time it will be difficult for me to pay the rent as I have to give salaries to the staff too. Since the meat comes hardly for two to three times, it will be hard to make up this huge expense,” she said.
“Till date, I have been managing from the savings I made from this business. If the situation prolongs then the business might have to close since it will be difficult for me to pay the rent for the meat shop and the staff,” she said.
Another meat vendor said that he is paying Nu 150,000 for the shop space, and he is currently struggling to make money.
“Since the ban of meat, my business was hit by and I have been using my savings to pay the meat shop rent and make other payments through it. There is limited supply of meat in the market. If the situation does not improve, there might be day when no meat will be available and we might have to close down our businesses,” he said.
In the meantime, the Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor says that to control the spread of COVID-19 and to stop the Swine Flu, the ministry has restricted the import of meat, but has allowed the packaged and frozen meat and even the local production is allowed.
“On one side consumers are saying that the price of meat has soared, and on the other side the meat vendors are saying they are not able to pay the meat shop rent. So in this matter, the ministry cannot do anything,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Lyonpo said, “If the meat vendors can sell the meat, they should continue otherwise they have to close down their business. For consumers, if they can afford to buy the meat then they should consume, and otherwise, they should stop consuming.”
In 2015 the Thimphu Thromde said it will start the construction of a three-storied modern building at Centenary Farmers’ Market (CFM) where even the meat shops in Norzin Lam and Chang Lam will be relocated in the building, at rent which would be half of the current rent and with better facilities.
The ground floor of the building was supposed to be designated as a parking lot. The first and second floors was supposed to have the meat shops. The third floor, installed with all necessary ventilation, was to be used for meat drying purpose.
The Thimphu Thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee, at the time had said that the Thromde has had to plan for a modern meat shop building with better facilities, such as lift services, refrigeration, a meat drying area and proper means of meat waste disposal.
He had said the new building for the meat shops will have a parking lot where meat can be offloaded and taken in the lift to the meat processing rooms and they would be provided with specific rooms where they can do all the chopping of meat.