Supply of essential commodities from India will continue: PM

There will be continuous supply of groceries, fuel and medicines from India, announced Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering at a press conference on Thursday.

The government has talked with the India government regarding these issues and the Government of India has agreed to supply or continue trade between the two countries, he said.

Lyonchhen said that he raised the issue of trade between the two countries to the Government of India if one country’s situation worsens with COVID-19.

“There will not be any crisis regarding supply of such items,” he said, adding that the Government of India will not cut off trade ties even if both the countries face major issues regarding virus.

Similarly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also discussed with India on how to deal with the situation if the country reached red zone or needed lockdown.

PM Dr Lotay Tsheing said when the news of first confirmed case of COVID-19 broke out, people rushed to grocery stores and fuel depots to stock up.

“People shouldn’t be alarmed like in other countries for stuff like food items,” he said, adding that Dzongkhags officials were informed to advocate both the customers and sellers alike not to increase the prices of goods and services.

He added that both the countries plan to have safe trading and every supplier and trader will be screened.

The government, according to Lyonchhen, has also planned on how to deal with imports even if both the countries face mass virus outbreak.

“Truckers from India who are bringing goods are screened before entering the Bhutan gate. Likewise, they will be given clothing and other equipment to protect from COVID-19,” Lyonchhen said, adding both the governments are prepared regarding trade.

Minister of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) Yeshey Penjor said for three months, basic food items will be imported solely from India and the government is also collaborating with private suppliers in the country.

“We ensure that there will be enough imported food items supplied to retailers in every Dzongkhang,” he said.

Lyonpo said that MoAF has already discussed with the Department of Trade, Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited and other private suppliers. “Now, they are planning to bring extra quantity of items in the country which will soon be supplied to every Dzongkhag,” he said.

Further, he said farmers should not stay back in fear of the virus. Instead, farmers are asked to grab the opportunity and bring their produce to the market. However, they are asked not to take advantage of the situation and hike the prices.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu