Better Business Council’s fate to be decided in next nine months

Though Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay had announced that a Better Business Council would be established to facilitate sustained public-private dialogue on investment and business in Bhutan years back, the body is yet to see the light of day.

However, the Better Business Secretariat has been carrying out the functions of the Council and will decide the next course of action in the next nine months, according to Lyonchhen.

The objective of Better Business Council, where private sector representatives and the government meet, is to improve the business environment.

During the Meet the Press yesterday, Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that when the authorities first decided to establish the Better Business Council, the idea they harbored was of an autonomous agency and a lot of excitement surrounded it.

“The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has set up a temporary secretariat within their office. Potential donors expressed interest but we wished to wait until external grants financing were made available rather than incur expenses from domestic revenue,” said Lyonchhen.

He said that external financing has been made available through an Asian Development Bank grant since then but it was decided that as an autonomous agency it would just add another layer to bureaucracy.

“Therefore a secretariat was established within the planning and policy division of the MoEA.”

Though the council itself has not been officially established, the council’s works are carried out by the secretariat and a lot of work has been done by the secretariat, he added.

Representatives from the government, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Druk Holding and Investments, Associations of Tourism and Bhutanese Industries and the Construction Association of Bhutan met in the capital back in 2015 to discuss the establishment of Better Business Council.

During the meeting, it was decided that the Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat would be from the government, who would be selected by the Royal Civil Service Commission.

There are 26,000 business licenses in the country excluding those earning profits informally.

Lyonchhen also said that the institution of BCCI should be strengthened for the private sector to do even better. He said there are currently only between 200 and 300 registered members, and that increasing the membership would be one of the ways to strengthen the chamber.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu