BCCI holds consultations to deal with the pandemic

During these difficult times, the private sector entities must work together since the pandemic has impacted the country socially and economically, said Deputy Secretary-General, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Chandra Chhetri representing the business community.

BCCI is part of the entire containment program and meetings with representation in the committees and task forces at the national, dzongkhag and sectoral levels, he said.

Additionally, Chandra Chhetri said the agency held a series of consultations under the private sector taskforce for COVID-19 containment and BCCI has established a taskforce chaired by the agencyโ€™s immediate past president, Dasho Ugen Tsechup to provide feedback to the government.

The consultations included different segments of the economic sector namely the entertainment industry, hoteliers, contractors, and informal sectors including the street food vendors to take stock of the impact triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Secretary-General said the first relief and rescue phase on the interest waiver, loan deferment, and provision of soft loans was a big intervention the government provided and the business community is happy.

The current phase II relief measures that have three fundamental pillars, livelihood, health and security, and continuity of businesses by the government and banks injecting the money in the economy was rehabilitation for the businesses, he said.

โ€œIf the business fails, the banking sector would suffer and vice versa,โ€ said the Deputy Secretary-General adding that these two sectors have to leverage and work together on how to get through the period.

For the second phase, he said the agency held bilateral meetings with the government, Royal Monetary Authority, and financial institutions to share the agencyโ€™s aspirations, thoughts, and recommendations as a rescue package of the government for continuity of the business on June 18 this year.

The agency put forward five recommendations on deferment of interest and equated monthly to ensure the economy afloat and sustainability of businesses, said the Deputy Secretary-General.

The recommendations also included topics like access to soft loans and its availability across the industry to support employee retention, micro-financing for informal and small sectors, an extension of the gestation period for ongoing projects, and the extension of already availed working capital concessional loans for the entire lending period beyond June 2020.

Deputy Secretary-General said the government has accommodated the recommendations, however, some areas of discussion would continue to happen.

Additionally, he said businesses have to adjust and align to the situation and there are opportunities in the agriculture sector, and the country has to build its national workforce then importing labourers.

For the revival of the economy, the private sector task force for the 21st century economic roadmap is recommending the National Taskforce on the 21st century economic roadmap.

The agency has also created funds through contribution by larger industries and enabled business houses to purchase disinfection machines; the work of disinfection being carried out in Phuentsholing and Gelephu on vehicles entering the country.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu