Refuting the Finance Minister’s statement, the Council Member of Haa said the government has not allocated any funds to complete the Samtse to Haa road construction. During the introduction of the Annual Budget for 2022-23 in the National Council yesterday, the minister said the budget is included in the Road Sector. However, the MP reported to the council that there is no budget allotted for it.
Finance Minister Namgay Tshering, yesterday said a total of Nu 92 M is allocated to the road sector.
The Haa MP, Ugyen Namgay, said he verified the budget allocation with the finance ministry yesterday and found that there is no separate budget for the Jyenkana to Sombaykha stretch along the Samtse to Haa highway. He presented his findings to the Council today.
The MP said they didn’t get the budget last year too to complete the work.
“People couldn’t continue the work on time and even the stretch that is completed is getting ruined. The budget for Samtse is already allocated and it is going to complete. Likewise, if Haa also gets the budget the work will be completed on time,” he said.
Work on the road connecting Haa and Samtse began in 2015.
The 77-km-long road between Jyenkana to Sombaykha is expected to improve the livelihood of the people in this region. However, seven kilometres of the stretch is still not complete.
The concern was forwarded to the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Council for further discussion.
Pema Seldon Tshering/Kelzang Choden
Edited by Sonam
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People of Khenadrang in Pema Gatshel look forward to earning some extra cash. Livestock officials distributed a jersey cow each to 28 households recently. Khenadrang Rehabilitation Settlement is one of the first projects under the National Rehabilitation Programme.
The cattle were distributed through a lucky draw to interested farmers in the village. The District Livestock sector said the office is distributing the cattle free of cost in the village as most of them cannot afford high-breed cattle.
“Now that we have distributed the cattle, we will gradually start collecting milk from them. And that way, they will be able to earn at least Nu 6,000 every month,” said Thinley Rabten, the Chief District Livestock Officer.
Very soon, a dairy group will be formed in the village. The group will supply milk to Nanong Milk Processing Unit. And the farmers are delighted with the news.
“Until now, we used to raise cattle only for manure and barely for dairy products. We are very happy with the gift. From now on, we will take good care of the animals and focus on dairy products,” said Tashi Chozom, a farmer in Khenadrang.
“I am very happy. I would like to thank His Majesty The King. I will work hard and make a good income. This will help us improve our livelihoods,” added Tshewang Rinzin, another farmer.
“We wished to raise jersey cattle when we heard of people buying and raising them. But we couldn’t afford it. Today, with the blessings of His Majesty, the district gave us the cattle for free,” said Tashi Wangmo.
The district administration spent about Nu 700,000 for the project.
Nearly 50 households from remote villages in the district were brought to Khenadrang in 2011. The programme was initiated upon Royal Command to address poverty and improve the livelihoods of landless and socioeconomically disadvantaged people across the country.
Thinley Dorji, Pema Gatshel
Edited by Phub Gyem
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More than a hundred farm shop sales executives spread across the country will lose their jobs by the end of this month. The Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd or FCBL decided to close the farm shops established in rural communities after running into a loss. However, the laid-off sales executives will be entitled to benefits and a two-month salary. And for those interested to continue the farm shop businesses on a franchise or retail, the FCBL is committing to facilitate the wholesale supply of essentials with credit facilities.
The FCBL started Farm Shop operation at the Gewog level in 2015. Today there are 101 farm shops across the country. The establishment provided farmers easy access to essential items, farm tools and seeds, and a guaranteed market. While the shops benefited the farmers, the FCBL says the operation incurred a loss of more than Nu 134 M in the last six years. In view of the poor performance, the FCBL decided to stop the operation of the shops.
The sales executives were informed about this decision in advance, and the management also met with them to discuss the future opportunities either with other agencies or with the FCBL.
The FCBL management met with the sales executives of six dzongkhags in the central and southern regions, in Gelephu recently. According to FCBL’s CEO Naiten Wangchuk, the farm shop operation is not sustainable because of the huge loss the corporation suffered. He said the shops in the gewogs have only a few customers and the sale can barely cover the transportation costs.
During the meeting in Gelephu, some sales executives interested to take the shop on a franchise mode requested the FCBL for an extension of credit repayment from 35 days to 60 days. They also requested for the corporation to let them use the office equipment.
However, the CEO said it will not be possible to extend the repayment of the credit facility since the cash flow needed for procurement and managing inventory will be impacted. But he said the sales executives can keep the office equipment at a subsidised rate.
The closure of the farm shops will directly affect 119 people. While 35 sales executives decided to continue the business in a franchise and retail mode, the remaining laid-off employees will be in the already burdened job market by next month. The FCBL said it has informed the laid-off employees of the opportunities under various skill development programmes initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.
Karma Wangdi, Gelephu
Edited by Sonam