There are around 37 industries which are operational
Despite the several lockdowns in Phuentsholing and the recent one stretching for more than 100 days, the industries at the Pasakha Industrial Estate are running in containment mode to keep the businesses going.
There are around 37 industries which are operational. There are 26 industries which are export oriented and these are particularly mineral-based industries.
Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said that besides hydropower, the Pasakha Industrial Estate is one of the industry’s hubs, which is contributing to the economy of the country.
Lyonpo said that the Pasakha industries alone during the normal times contribute around Nu 14bn to Nu 16bn annually.
“We are fortunate that the Pasakha area is having a different access to neighboring countries through the Allay check post. Pasakha is isolated from Phuentsholing,” the minister said.
According to the minister, heavy trucks earlier had to move via Phuentsholing, but now they can directly go from the Allay check post. The raw materials can be imported from there and export can also happen from the Alley check post.
Lyonpo mentioned that during the lockdown, industries were continuous and operating in the self-containment mode.
However, Lyonpo said those industries which had workers at Phuentsholing and which required movement of workers from Phuentsholing to Pasakha could not operate fully.
Lyonpo said that vehicle movement from the interior of Pasakha was also facilitated within the COVID-19 protocols. There are few industries in Pasakha which cater to domestic needs.
‘If we do not allow these industries to run, there will be massive cut down of employees because there are substantial numbers of Bhutanese employees which is more than 100 Bhutanese. Our export has to continue and the mode of transportation of raw materials has to continue,” Lyonpo said.
Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very minimal because the industrial area is isolated far away from Phuentsholing.
“The import and export was managed in such a way that there was minimum contact. The workers were managed in the containment mode. When it is a containment it means workers are stationed in industries’ area only like within the factory premises and some might be outside the factory premises. The industrialists made the Standard of Procedure for operating from the first lockdown,” the minister said.
“I would say that there were some fall outs but we revised the SoPs and system,” Lyonpo added.
However, there are few industries that are completely shut down because they couldn’t operate in self-containment mode as the employees were not there and needed a lot of workers.
“There is a logistical issue of the employees,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Association of Bhutanese Industries (ABI) did not respond when trying to contact them.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu