The public says that at the end of the day, they will be the ones “hammered”
The moratorium on the ban of the selected vehicle has already been taken as a signal that more could come in the following days and weeks, leading to business houses dealing with non-essential products already stock-piling what they have.
The government had announced that the issue concerning foreign reserves would be undertaken through a three-pronged approach. While the final one would be importing only essentials, the government had given indications that a ban on selected items from non-essential items is a possibility.
While what those items have not been made public, people have begun to assume that if there is a ban on selected non-essential items, it would include furniture, cell phones, and others.
The owner of R.C furniture here in Thimphu said he began to order bulk items of furniture in August this year when the government announced the ban on the import of vehicles.
“I normally import furniture from Delhi, India, and I recently placed an order worth Nu 6mn to Nu 7mn for furniture, of which half has already come and the other half is on the way,” he said adding that, currently, he has a stock worth of Nu 5mn to Nu 6mn in total, including those displayed.
Another furniture shop in Thimphu, who sought anonymity said that they would run into trouble if they did not have any stock to sell later if the government bans the import of furniture or included it on the list of non-essential things.
“It is best to stock up now when there is no ban on imports. If I buy from local industries in the country to sell, the price would be exorbitant and I would have to sell it at a higher cost in order to avoid losses,” she said, adding that there would be few buyers.
It is not the ones dealing with furniture thinking about the future. Mobile phone sellers are doing their bit, too. Mobile shops in Thimphu like Mobile City Centre, I-spot, and Apple solution have also ordered more number of phones than they usually do.
The owner of Apple solution, who deals with both android and IOS phones along with laptops said, they have a stock worth Nu 7mn to Nu 8mn right now which will last for many months.
“Usually, we keep our stock worth Nu 3mn to Nu 5mn but we have ordered more preparing for a situation where the government may impose a ban on import of the mobile phones,” she said.
One of Thimphu’s largest retailers of household goods, which are imported from third countries said he has already received about five shipments of goods are waiting for more.
“I cannot reveal to you the figure I spent, but as you can see my shop is filled with items which can be called essential or non-essential. If a ban is imposed, I have to think about everyone – myself, my employees, and also the customer,” he said, adding that almost everyone is doing the same.
The public on the other hand is definite that they will be “hammered.” “The government imposes bans and business entities hoard. Ultimately, the prices will rise and at the end of the day, it is always the common people bearing the brunt,” Tandin Wangchuk, a private contractor said, while adding that at the current stage, such stringent measures are required. “We do not want to become like Sri Lanka,” he said.
The paper could not obtain information on the number of foreign reserves that have been given to private and other individuals for trade, after the moratorium.
Although the department of trade (DoT) does not have a list of non-essential commodities, the essential commodities, according to the department are necessities and others like fuel, LPG, milk, flour, cheese, rice, edible oil, vegetables, fruits, noodles, eggs, mineral water, sanitary pads, baby diapers, cereals, butter, toiletries, salt, tea, coffee, sugar, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, detergents, pharmaceuticals product, industrial raw materials and raw materials for hydropower construction. Thus, going by the PM’s words, a ban on any commodity that does not fall under the above may be implemented.
In an earlier interview with the paper, the Prime Minister (PM), Dr. Lotay Tshering said, there is no absolute standard for what constitutes essential and non-essential items because what is essential to one person may not be essential to another. “For example, if you are a mother, a diaper will be important to you but not to someone who is not a mother,” the PM said, adding the real essentials are rice, edible oil, and electricity.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu