Immediate intervention for those gravely affected by lockdown

Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering

This is in response to residents of Phuentsholing seeking intervention after the prolonged lockdown.

Sangay Rabten

Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government will immediately intervene and help any family and individuals who are direly affected by the lockdown presently imposed in the south.

The Prime Minister said that the government understands that the lockdown have affected people of Phuentsholing and support and care systems are already in place.

Support packages such as a different Royal Kidu scheme to target them are also in place while entrepreneurs can also avail loans from National Credit Guarantee Scheme and CSI without any collateral at very low interest according to the Prime Minister.  

He said that the small business owners can also roll out the capital with their current stock.

He said that if the small business ownerswants any scheme, it should be tailored based and specific. The Prime Minister said there are issues posed by lockdown. Nonetheless, he said measures couldn’t be provided just based echoes of issues.

“There is no destitute people facing survival threat due to pandemic lockdown in Phuentsholing or cannot pay their rents. Kidus are provided by His Majesty and those really affected should apply for the scheme,” he said.

The Prime Minster said interventions are coming up to cushion our society against the economic consequences of the lockdown though it may not be impossible to meet the expectations of every individual.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that economy activity has disrupted the global economy and Bhutan is no exception. He said that there are no destitute individual who cannot afford three meals and have no homes to live in. “And if people are talking of business it is another level of comfort seeking,” he said.

The finance minister said it is true that the government should support the entrepreneurs but strategies and measures should come from them, not just seek for support. There is Royal Kidu scheme looking after the affairs of the people and different support schemes are already being provided according to the minister.  

He said if small business owners are seeking for differentiated approaches the case should be studied thoroughly and discussed in the cabinet.

The minister for Economic Affairs Loknath Sharma said that the people always want supports but they should understand that the government is also in a precarious situation.

“Therefore, there is no separate scheme for the residents of Phuentsholing for affected by the long duration of lockdown,” he said. However, he said that if there are some recommendations the government would explore possible alternatives to support their initiatives.

The minister said that business owners of Phuentsholing had been enjoying the benefit from business suitable location compared to other places. He said they must have saved at least enough during their favorable time. “They should also bear the situation during the bad times. The lockdown is not for years and years but just had been few months.”

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that every possible consideration is made from the government’s side. He said that the ministry had also issued circulars to the regional offices not to impose penalties on delay of license renewal due to lockdown until December 2021, and businesspersons are given the liberty to shift their business location out of Phuentsholing.

In response to grievance on unequal protocol policies whereby only vegetable vendors are allowed to operate while restaurants and bars are barred, the minister said that their choice of business nature had compelled the situation.

He said that vegetables vendors following protocol should be allowed as it is necessary items in home where liquors are not necessary items. He said people visiting bars and restaurants will remain for long and vegetable buyers will go back immediately. “I urge people to understand the cause of lockdown,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, the MP of Phuentsholing constituency, education minister JB Rai, said he regrets and is worried equally with the ongoing situation. He said he is constantly in touch with Thromde and Dungkhag officials.

The minister also said that he is in touch with the Prime Minister and Economic Affairs Minister informing about the situation both formally and informally on cabinet level as well as personal level.

The minister said that His Majesty The King and the Prime Minister visited the region and knows about the situation. “People are fortunate to receive the Royal Kidu.”

He said, “I have deep care and concern on people of my constituency and is looking way forward to support ensuring a sustainable recovery but pandemic doesn’t allow working despite effort being made to help.”

The minister said that he has deep concerns for the people and that the residents of Phuentsholing should not lose their hopes or feel they are neglected. “The whole nation is behind them”