Does anyone know why the government insists on permitting only FCB to import vegetables? I don’t. The prime minister had explained that only FCB would be provided Indian rupees to import vegetables as FCB would be able to buy in bulk and would not be motivated by profit, which would make prices come down.
But vegetable prices have not come down. Instead, they’ve skyrocketed, because FCB’s prices turned out to be much higher. Plus, a lot of their vegetables had turned bad even before they reached Thimphu. As a result, consumers paid higher prices, but received poorer quality, and vegetable suppliers suffered big losses. In addition, the government now has to bear the cost of 65MT of vegetables that were rejected by the vegetable suppliers.
FCB’s first attempt at importing vegetables has failed terribly. So you’d think that the government w0uld learn from the experience and finally accept that importing vegetables from Falakata is not as easy as it seems. You’d think that they would revert to letting the vegetable suppliers do what they do best, i.e., import vegetables, a specialized trade that they’ve mastered over decades of doing the business.
But what does the government do? They dig in their heels and redouble their efforts to force FCB to import vegetables in spite of the fact that they obviously do not know how. So FCB has reportedly hired an Indian vegetable supplier to “help” them. And the government has forced our vegetable suppliers to pay as much as 70% of their orders upfront, in advance. The idea, it seems, is to coerce vegetable suppliers to buy from FCB, regardless of the quality and the price of the vegetables.
Doing business in Bhutan is difficult as it is. But the government seems hell-bent on making it even more difficult. They should know that businesses, even if they are small time vegetable suppliers, do not stand to lose much; they’ll simply move on. The real losers, the government should know, are the consumers, the people of Bhutan.