Will Bhutan make it to top 100 in ease of doing business?

In the question hour session of the National Assembly held on February 18, the MP of North Thimphu constituency, Kinga Tshering, questioned what the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) was doing to include Bhutan in the top 100 list of countries in the ranking of ease of doing business in the next two years.

The MoEA Minister, Norbu Wangchuk, said they have formulated a plan that will help place Bhutan on the list of the top 100 countries.

The Minister also pointed out that economic stability of a country is dependent on the quality of economic institutions, system and law in place. Lyonpo highlighted that issues such as unemployment, rupee shortage and instability in the business sphere affect the nation’s economic stability. He said Bhutan ranks 7 out of 8 countries in the SAARC, with just a few points above Afghanistan. The SAARC region development is ranked the lowest in the world.

Lyonpo said, “While doing business, an important thing to consider is the procedure to get license, loan, and if we export, what are the procedure and if we can’t repay loan, and if the procedure to close and start business is easy or hard.”

Lyonpo informed the NA of the political will to see Bhutan in the top 100 position, from its current position of 141 out of 189 countries, and MoEA is working on fulfilling that ambition.

“It is a very big task, if we see in last five-year period, in the ease of doing business, we stand at 141 position, and we have not stepped to a higher position. So, in two-year period, to advance in top 100 position, will be a heavy task, as all the other countries will be competing for the ranking,” MoEA Minister added.

In the ministry’s plan to advance in top 100 positions, is the introduction of an Enterprise bill and to ease the procedure in obtaining business licenses. The ministry is also looking at ways to do away with license requirement for low-risk business.

Lyonpo said that Companies Act needs to be amended so as to make it more business friendly. He said the Immigration Act also needs to be looked at as it places restriction on business mobility.

The MoEA Minister highlighted that reaching the 100 position rank will also depend on relaxing Bhutan’s stringent environment clearance procedures. Lyonpo said that it is not important to stand in a higher position, but to improve and develop the quality of our economic system.

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