No decision to exempt bar and restaurant license renewal fees yet: MoEA Minister

Minister for Economic Affairs Lok Nath Sharma

        Respond to an appeal by Phuentsholing bar and restaurant owners

Sangay Rabten

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has not yet arrived to a decision to exempt renewal fees for the bar and restaurant owners of Phuentsholing, said the Minister for Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma.

He was responding this during the 44th meet the press on Friday 6to an appeal made by bar and restaurant owners to exempt Business Income Tax (BIT) and license renewal fees.

The minister said the ministry did not receive any written proposal until now from the particular business group. “Nor the regional trade office in Phuentsholing received any grievance proposals,” the minister said. The Covid-19 Task Force had received recommendations besides recommendations were made by some Members of the Parliament to exempt the fees.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said all business people of Phuentsholing are in trouble due to the pandemic, including the consumers. He said that should only the bar and restaurant owners be exempted from the fees, it would not be fair as all categories of business are affected equally.

The minister also said that if bar and restaurant owners are only the affected section, the ministry would genuinely consider the matter but all other affected groups too should be taken into consideration.

“However, the ministry have not arrive to the decision and it should be looked from holistic approach,” the minister said, adding the ministry is discussing the matter with the Covid-19 Task Force.

In an earlier interview with Bhutan Times, the regional director of trade in Phuentsholing, Sonam Dendup, said the office did not receive any written appeal from the bar and restaurant owners to exempt them from license renewal fees.

Lyonchhen Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering, responding on BIT appeal, said that the business individuals need to file tax but tax would not be levied if there is no income.

The Finance Minister Namgay Tshering in earlier interview too said that if there is no income, there is no tax liability on the individuals. He also informed that the government is looking for economic recovery and various stimulus packages.

Meanwhile, bar and restaurant owners of Phuentsholing had appealed to the MoEA and the Ministry of Finance to exempt from BIT and license renewal fees in the wake business affected by the pandemic as the fee is bit high being in a category of town A.

This, they say, will be great relief to them and would be a simple but effective recovery measure.