Bhutan Hardware Association

Thukten Zangpo 

The members of the Bhutan Hardware Association (BHA) expressed concerns over the transportation of hardware items, employee retention, access to loans, and illegal hardware distributors during their meeting in Thimphu on April 30. 

A hardware distributor, Choden, said that her business, dealing with the pipes and water tanks, faced difficulty in transporting these items using single-cabin Bolero pickups due to the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority’s (BCTA) rule on the maximum permissible height of the load for vehicles.

According to the BCTA, the maximum height of the load in case of medium and heavy vehicles should be up to the cabin level of the vehicle. 

The Authority warned that defaulters should be penalised according to regulations and instructed vehicles modified to carry loads exceeding the permissible height limit to remove modifications by August 30 this year. 

Choden said that despite implementing safety measures while transporting goods in single-cabin Boleros, the hardware businesses have incurred fines and charges related to this matter. Members expressed that the government could set timing for the transport of the hardware items.  

On the retention of employees, president of the BHA, Thinley Dorji, said that the requirement of a no-objection certificate and concern letter from the employer if an employee wants to join another hardware business. 

Members also raised concerns on the distribution of the hardware items by Indian counterparts in nexus with the Bhutanese licence holders or contractors, and suggested constant monitoring by the concerned agencies. 

Additionally, the members asked the government to simplify the process of inviting business guests, suggesting that there should be no restrictions on the duration or frequency of visits throughout the year as these visits contribute to local businesses and all associated expenses are covered by the companies.

The Association had submitted several issues to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment during the ministry’s review on the business regulatory process. 

They requested the government’s active endorsement and support for hardware firms by facilitating easy access to loans, particularly through overdrafts (OD) against stocks. 

They also sought endorsement of a 24-hour transshipment permit at the mini-dry port to enhance logistical efficiency. 

Hardware community raised their concern on various charges levied by customs such as development fee, disinfection fee, demurrage fees, and overtime fee, increasing the cost of imported goods. 

Additionally, on delay in receipt of payments from various government departments and ministries, delaying in settling bills causing imbalance within the sector’s business operations.

The Association plans to discuss these issues with the executive members and submit their recommendations to the government.