Real losers

Remove the rot

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.




Facebook Comments:


  1. Today is just the FCB. A few years down the line, our government might introduce chain supermarkets like the ones they have in the west (ASDA, Tesco, Morrison, Sainsbury etc), which will bring about irreversible poverty and disasters to our already badly-doing farmers.

  2. and consumers, of course.

  3. Tashi wangchuk says

    Government under a Dictator will fail as it always been. This present government failed to address the current crisis. The situation is made worse after a series intervention by the dictactorship policies. Experienced much higher Inflation and slowed down economy. The disadvantage citizens are worse affected because these people could’t adjust with the shocks. However, Govt could have done more than current measures. Government handling of present crisis shows incompetence and disorganised. FCB handling vegetable supply is a policy of failure because doesnt have experience and knowledge (inefficient) compared to vendors. And Self Relience policy is not a new idea in Bhutan..however, Bhutan import tonnes of vegetable from India.


    i guess the ruling govt people are idiots who are draining salt from our own body, they deserve to be called as idiots not leaders, first they stopped INR and now they provide vegetables which are unsaleable and with much higher price. who the hell in this country can survive with less income.In other words they get plenty of salary and INR and they just don’t understand whats happening in the lower and middle class of the people. i guess this time its in our hand to pick whom….

  5. yes i agree with TORISE that the high officials and leaders are not concerned of the problems faced by the common people in the land of GNH. They are happy since they get INR though there is restrictions, they get medecines though there is shortage for the common people. so i feel there is more than one law in our country. the decisions taken by our goverment are frustrating and self centered ones.
    our MPs are fighting for the Pension and othere benefits while on other hand the students in the remote schools are not getting enough diets. what going on??? Common wake up our wise, farsighted and respected leaders??? please stop preaching GNH and Lets practice it.

  6. We now know that we need no fear from external forces, we have inbred and hybrid within our system!

  7. My question is if FCB is acting as the wholesaler, why do we need another wholesaler, why don’t FCB directly supply it to the vendors, right now the people benefiting the most are the wholesalers, they do nothing and get all the profit, FCB bring vegetables from India, vendors sells it to the customers, so again I ask why do we need wholesalers in the middle. This is adding unessary cost to already expensive vegetables.
    So my suggestion is either FCB act as a wholesaler or let wholesaler import the vegetable on their own, we already have too many middleman in between we don’t need to add one more.

  8. Dear Truth, I write to you not as any social scientist, it is only as someone who knows about all the story and what one of the paper has told, yes, the paper has its fact all right to the edges.

    Its a double-edged though. Its an issue.

    Why do you think “vendors” are not doing anything? What do you think they should go, switch their business or close down their market which have taken years to build la. They are doing la, they are doin all they can, both as an individual and as union as well.

    I bet, government shouldn’t have this middleman as FCB, why do Govt only want FCB to buy and supply? Is it so because all remains within government. I know these are all naive questions, I write here to know why only FCB? FCB has thrashed the Wholesale vendors and now the 70% advance? Is it true anyways because government won’t do that yet I think one of the FCB official has confirmed it. Must be true. N threatens? Is it true as well. We want to know.OL please kindly offer us your best service possible to find this N the reporter guy must also do all he can in his capacity. Inform the nation. I merrily accept the noble idea behind “Brand Bhutan.” We must “sow & harvest” and also erase this wrong notion of geopolitical factors…

  9. once again a failed planning from the govt point. Rather then bringing down the price of the vegetables, it soared more then before.
    we have loads of problem to be addressed by the govt, so why is govt taking on more problem then it can address?
    let the wholeseller do their job and if possible govt can check the prices from soaring or check too much profit hoarded by wholeseller.
    It seems in our country everyone at the top gets away as first timer for the wrongs, like expressway, changjiji housing, constructions etc, forgetting the loses the nation is facing.
    My message to the govt. let the skilled do their job.

  10. And where the hell prime minister? this man loves travelling doesn’t he? i dont see a point why Bhutan should look for place in UN security council, what can we give the world..the only good thing we had was our national philosophy of GNH which he has hijacked and made his own. I m begining to suspect an ulterior maotive of the incumbent PM, he is marketing the GNH so ruthlessly that it has proven to be counterproductive. when chilips come to Bhutan..they are given minimum 3 star hospitality. so they are prwvented to see how difficult life is in bhutan. the tuorism policy must change, a common man cannot earn anything from tourists..all the tourist money goes to the rich few who can afford to put up huge resorts n expensive hotels. tourism in bhutan is the monopoly of few rich and connected families..they r earning a million in the name of preserving our culture..bullshit.
    For how long can we be a ‘happy’ nation surviving on hand outs given by others? can a beggar ever be happy? we are more malnourished nation than north korea. our hospitals have no basic life saving medicines and equipment. our quality of education is not something that i m proud of- see for english A day will come soon when chilips will think GNH as a sham. and all the credit for this must go his excellency the PM. period.
    PS- we have seen many political parties sprouting, it is a healthy sign that we have some fresh heads ready to take up the lead..but a word of caution..unless they all unite, they stand no chance to win against the formidible (and useless) DPT. better to unite and show the doors to the oldies.

  11. I think FCB was instructed to do the job by the govt. all said and done, the intention was to serve the people. Some good intention goes good albeit all the efforts while others do not meet expectations.

  12. The fact of the matter is that prices of vegetables have sky rocketed and the simple citizens who are the majority and who live off their meager salaries are affected very hard.

    Someone is responsible for this situation and should take moral responsibility. I’m not blaming anyone for creating it but for not anticipating and preventing it and also for being able to find a proper solution.

    After all, we elected them and elevated them as our leaders and ministers. If they can’t handle a crisis they have no right to occupy their chairs.

    And we are not interested in intentions. We want results.
    A student is graded by his exam results not his intentions, A coach is judged by the performance and results of the team not intentions.

  13. Dear fellow citizens,
    Please be reasonable and show patience. Our government is trying to improve our domestic production to be able to stand on our own feet in future. It may cause some problem but we need to face it. The issue of indian currency by our bank is not going to be sustainable as our gov has to borrow from indian banks at high interest rates.

  14. gamingumin says

    Bhutan will soon become known as the land of GNH and ERV –Expensive Rotten Vegetables.

  15. Sampa has made his point genuinely and loudly. That is the reality of Bhutan today.

    This current government unnecessarily interfered with the selling of vegetables. Now look at it they cannot handle even to sale vegetables. It is not possible for a government institution to do such business because people working in this institution will not feel any loss when they lose money for rotten vegetable as the money is from the public coffer. I don’t know why government has to worry on vegetables import which only cost about 500 million rs per year. I think they are trying to avoid other pressing issues.In a capitalist society, leave vegetables to the local vendors. They were doing great business before. There was no complaints before. Now government has unnecessarily created social disharmony amongst people that did not exist before. You cannot save anything from vegetables if FCB function like this.

  16. Pedestrian says

    The big question is why should FCB be involved in vegetable import. It is a job well done by private businesses. What is the purpose and the value in doing so? How does it benefit the economy and the consumers at the end? So many questions but no answers.

  17. gamingumin says

    The government is taking advantage of the rupee crunch as an excuse to promote its GNH programme. Instead of looking into the problem seriously and coming up with proper policies it is resorting to cheap gimmicks like the pedestrians day and the ban on vegetable imports by private businessmen. They don’t seem to understand or even care about the problems of ordinary people. They are lost in their empty rhetoric of GNH.

  18. I don’t understand why the Government is trying to do this on import of vegetables … if we calculate the import of vegetables may not even be more that Nu 2 billion …

    and yet they allow high end hotels and all holding duty free cards to import expensive wine and alcohol… JUST don’t understand this policy… vegetables are needs and expensive wine and alcohol are wants…

  19. guardian says

    Good intentions of the government gone awry again because of poor implementation. But I also understand why the RGOB allowed the FCB to be the retailer in this vegetable business as the vegetable vendors in the past have been seen to take advantage of certain situations to jack up prices to maximize their profits.

  20. gamingumin says

    There is saying that the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions. But in this case it is more than just good intentions. This government needs to learn that it must study things properly before implementing something that affects ordinary people. Instead of democracy it is promoting autocracy.

  21. Bhutanese vegetable vendors have only one thing in mind, that is to make as much profit as possible by selling cheap and adulterated vegetables from Falkata. For example, they buy a kg of beans from Falkata at Rs 4 and charge Nu. 16 at CFM, thus making a huge profit. They have no interest in well being of Bhutanese consumers or rural producers, which goes to show how selfish they could be when blinded by non-Buddhist mindset of profit maximization. They will always find excuses to blame FCB rather than coming together and support the country when it is going through economic tough time.

    However, i am not defending FCB. The corporation should be reminded to improve its services in terms of quality and quantity. The advantage with FCB getting involved in vegetable business, however, is that it will lead to formalization of trading system with India; consumers will get cheaper vegetables; will encourage local production because FCB will buy only those items not available in Bhutan; Whereas, private vendors will import all types of vegetables thus directly competing with those items that can be produced locally.

    I think when we discuss topic as important as vegetables for sustenance and health, we should avoid blame game. Objective discussion is important and find a best way to make healthy vegetables available to all Bhutanese with less impact on rupee reserve, that by now should be regarded as precious as US Dollar.


  22. guardian says

    Thinlay, thanks for your explanation, if only our vegetable vendors were not so greedy, the government would have had no reason to intervene in their business. I read somewhere that a small vegetable vendor made a profit of up to 30,000 per month, it just shows how greedy these vendors have been, though, I do admit that it is hard work too.

  23. Truth_is_Buddha says

    Don’t put your arms around your head to touch the nose. Straight way is transparent & better in achieving results.

    Veg vendors/ wholesalers should be supported by giving them calculated amount of IC each week. Best to monitor them through a sustianable mechanism, price control/ regulation, quality control, etc.

    Govt interventions (direct such as FCB importing veg) should be kept at minimum. Or else our pvt sectors will never be allowed to grow and become strong.

  24. rockhard says

    Results would have been very different if the vendors/wholesalers, OL and media didn’t conspire to make things difficult to FCB instead of cooperating. They have no heart and certainly no love for the country nor the consumers whose interest they pretend to protect. OL, you seem to be disparate to discredit the government Why don’t you focus on preparing your party for 2013 instead of wasting valuable time on finding faults with the government. If the government is prepared to take unpopular decisions in the interest of the country without thinking of the negative political consequences, they can’t be wrong…

  25. Seriously this blogs helps me. I didn’t know this things were happening. Now i know the reason why i dont get the onions and tomatoes. i jus feel like saying thanks with my third finger to our government for many damn interventions. On the name of people, they go on implementing their own policies and fails many a times. On the name of new democracy being introduced to Bhutan, the new Government is almost done with their experiments.Our government should be aware that Bhutan is not a laboratory land for experimenting economic and political issues. Its toooo much…..

  26. Ngawang,

    Are you serious when you say that you can’t get tomatoes and onions in the market or are you just blabbering because you don’t have anything better to do. Mind you, if onions and tomatoes were not available in the market, the news paper calling themselves ‘The Bhutanese’ and the OL would be the first one to make an issue of it, so I just don’t believe what you have written.

  27. 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.

  28. Guardian,
    it wasn’t a persisting problem like US economic crisis or so…it happened for week long which i felt unusual….i am not talking of thimphu were news covers every parts of the city…m talking of my own town…any way, m not trying to convince you…

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