Economic activities spur in border towns

Bhutanese prefer crossing the border gate to buy goods as it is cheaper by 5% to 10%

The reopening of border gates has spurred most of the economic activities, ease staffing pressures and help small businesses get back on their feet. It will also facilitate human capital movements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, within a week, it has helped the southern parts of the country’s economy. People who live there have stimulated their economic activities. People are optimistic that in the coming days they will be able to study the market situation of both sides of the country.

Raju business owner in Phuntsholing said that the shops like groceries and restaurants are running smoothly these days but it seems there will be tough competition for the garment shops and vegetable vendors.

A businessman, Wangchuk who runs a restaurant in Phuntsholing said that he made a good profit since the opening of the gate. “The number of people including the neighbouring customer coming into my restaurant has increased and I made a good profit in just three days.”

Nima Selden, another restaurant owner in Nganglam said that since the opening of the gate her customer has drastically increased as compared to previous normal days. “The people of the neighbouring country come to her restaurant to test the Bhutanese dish”

While in Samtse, a grocery shopkeeper, Yangki said that with the opening of the border gate, Samtse town looks very empty and there aren’t many customers in town. “As a grocery shop owner, my daily income has reduced as compared to usual normal days when the border gate remained closed.”

“Many people prefer crossing the border gate to buy goods as it is cheaper about 5% to 10%. With this, vegetable vendors, garments shops, kitchen utility shops, and hardware shops, among others has lost almost 50% of the customer,” said Yangki.

Kinley, a garment shop owner in Samtse said that since the opening of the border gate he lost his customer almost by 10%. “People go to buy garments in the neighbouring country as it is very cheap compared to the price of our garments.”

He said that he plans to import garments from a third country since the quality from the neighbouring won’t be good, which, it might help to run his business smoothly.

Similarly a vegetable vendor in Gelephu, Namgay Zam said that many people choose to go to buy vegetables outside the gate since the price is very cheap. “I am worried as to how my business will run since the opening of the gate, I lost my customer aside from my regular customer.

Meanwhile, sources from Jaigaon said that the rent of the house in Jaigaon has not increased with the opening of the gate and the people who left Jaigaon after the closure of the Bhutan gate has already settled in some other places.

The sources said that residents at Jaigaon are excited and happy to welcome Bhutanese into their market. Similarly, new chamurchi town, a place near India and Samtse border is preparing to establish its shops though some have already established and welcomed the customer from Bhutan.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu