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For better business in Haa …

… exempt sales tax (to vie with IMTRAT canteen) and ease access for Indian tourists 

27th Annual General Meeting: Representatives of the Haa business community once again voiced their concerns over the IMTRAT (Indian military training team) canteen stores department (CSD) eating into their business at the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) 27th annual general meeting held this week in Thimphu.

However, unlike in the last meeting in 2010, where local businesses in Haa pushed for a need to restrict access of CSD to civilians, this time they have urged the chamber to approach the government for a possible business sales tax exemption in the dzongkhag.

“The goods sold in the CSD canteen are sales tax exempted, but the same goods sold by locals are not,” the Haa BCCI representative, Rinchen Khandu, said. “Difference in selling price is the obvious reason for customers to prefer buying from CSD.”

IMTRAT CSD provides all types of goods, from toiletries and kitchen items to ready made garments and stationery.  It is meant for army personnel and ex-servicemen, but locals also get access.

A local businessman in Haa said there is a system of selling the goods to cardholders (army personnel) only, but local people somehow manage to buy goods. “Most items sold in the CSD are almost 50 percent cheaper than items available in Haa township,” he added.

Considering its small population, the department of revenue and customs could keep the exempt sales tax for three years to allow growth, Rinchen Khandu suggested. “The tax later on could then be gradually increased for local businesses,” he said.

BCCI general secretary Phub Tshering said the chamber is concerned about growth of the retail sector in Haa and such issues, although complicated, would be put up in the next private sector development committee (PSDC) meeting.

A request for considering free entry for Indian tourists visiting Haa, without having to obtain special route permit, was also made during the AGM.

“The business community there feels no need for Indian tourists to obtain special route permit, and an increase in tourist numbers can benefit local businesses,” Rinchen Khandu said. “The home ministry could help fund festivals, so that local goods could be sold to tourists.”

Phub Tshering said the PSDC had already submitted the permit issue to tourism council (TCB) and association of Bhutanese tour operators (ABTO), and the business community in Haa will be informed once the decision comes through. “It’s difficult to have festivals in Haa during winter, but the chamber had informed TCB and ABTO to conduct summer festivals for tourists,” he said.

By Passang Norbu

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One comment

  1. For better business for handful of business owner in HA

    It is the Haa business community, wherein a handful of business owner skyrocketing price which is treble the market price in Thimphu and elsewhere creating a situation of haves and haves not and people/ultimate consumer suffer at the end of the day! By general practice consumer has to be given an option to buy from any sources. It is wrong to tell consumer to do this and that. To me: it is this handful of business owner who initially has had a practice of such commodities being procured from the CSD canteen and then sale to the consumer. Now; when this business owner had reaped the benefit and when in a quite comfortable situation they eat those retail dwelling and consumers (middle income, lower income and ALL).

    Generally, the very good of having such foreign Military Training centre like IMTRAT (India-Bhutan friendship society) in our own soil should have provisions for providing some benefits to the society within the Ha. The IMTRAT should not let the bulk purchasing system which in itself is the swindle for misuse but for the betterment of consumer at large provide a piecemeal purchase and option to consumer.

    For the sale tax part the DRC should not go by few individual proposals but must get deepener into the business situation and consumer relation. In general situation the consumer are said to be KING but it is otherwise here at HA; the owner the KING here.

    Therefore, frequent and sudden checks and monitoring by the RTO are the tools to restrain these Skyrocketing price.

    For example:

    To travel to Ha from Phuntsholing the fare cost Nu.200 almost same or nearest to the fare to Thimphu. But boneless meat of a Kilo cost Nu.220 in Ha whereas in Thimphu it is just Nu.190. It is not skyrocketing? Friend

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