Better late than never

It’s not a benign time for the private sector and financial institutions in the country going by what the representatives pointed out at a meeting with the BCCI last week.

Firstly, the representatives cautioned that the economy collapsing is inevitable if the government and the central bank don’t address the current liquidity crunch for another few months.

Bankers reiterated that the government is least bothered about their plight. With the banks told to suspend housing and vehicle loans, bankers say there is a huge crisis within the banks.

This has not only left the banks hapless, but builders who have started construction with their own capital and now in need of additional finances have also fallen on hard times.

Some are selling off their land and assets at much lesser price, while some have resorted to borrowings from their families and relatives abroad just to ensure that the constructions are complete.

The government should seriously delve into what is going wrong. They just can’t take credit for the growth achieved through the banks and the private sectors, and be uncaring when there is a crisis, just like what the bankers say.

Secondly, business community members are vehemently opposing the Pedestrians’ Day. They say they confronted difficulties on different scales and in situation because of this ad-hoc policy of the government.

They have even declared to hold a silent protest against this policy if nothing materializes 30 days after their proposal is submitted to the government. Whatever said and done, 52 days of no work because of Tuesdays tantamount to a huge loss, both for the private sector as well as the economy.

So how do we address this problem?

BCCI office in Thimphu

All of us are aware of the noble intention and the rationale behind observing the Pedestrians’ Day. It’s a significant and an exemplary contribution from a small country like ours. We have also bagged humungous international publicity through such a policy.

However, we should also be reminded that Bhutan is a least developed country and pursuing economic growth is equally important to us. And this policy is proving to be critically counterproductive in the sense that it is obstructing the process of development.

Truckers in the country are losing about less than a million a year; the same is with the home builders, contractors and government projects that have to be stalled. Even importers, exporters and transport agencies are no exception. All have huge setbacks.

But can we help it? In between the 2 Es- the economy and the environment – our development policies are strongly centered and emphasized on the latter. May be it’s time to have some relaxation now. And it is better late than never.

[September 23, 2012]



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