English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Entertainment centres, tourism and travel-related businesses exempted from license renewal

May 10, 2021

Owners of entertainment centres and tourism and travel-related businesses in the country are worried that their businesses might continue to remain closed for a few more years as the ministry of economic affairs announces exemption from renewing business license until 2023. Businesses in the entertainment and tourism and travel-related sectors have remained closed since the country reported the first COVID-19 positive case in March last year.

It has been a struggle for those working in the entertainment and tourism and travel-related sectors to keep their businesses afloat or to make ends meet without any source of income. With global travel restrictions in place, the country has not seen a single tourist since March last year. Similarly, the struggle is real for the owners of and those working in the entertainment centres as their businesses continue to remain closed amid the pandemic. While the economic affairs ministry’s recent notification to exempt them from renewing their business license comes as a piece of good news, they say it is equally worrisome as it also signals that their businesses could remain closed for some more time.

“We are facing a lot of difficulties as our business continue to remain closed. We have to pay rent for the entertainment centres and there is not a single building owner who provides a 100 per cent waiver on the rent. So we are still bearing the losses,” said Chencho Dorji, owner of Dorji Drayang in Thimphu.

Moreover, he added the ministry has delayed in issuing the notification as some of the business owners have already renewed their licenses.

“We feel that the ministry has delayed the notification to the public since some of the license holders received calls from the department of trade that they asking them to renew their licenses or else they will have to bear the penalties.  So most of them have renewed their licenses. Therefore, we are not sure if the renewal fees will be refunded or not. There is no clear message.”

The economic affairs minister, Loknath Sharma said it is impossible to predict when the businesses could re-open as the nature of the pandemic itself is unpredictable.

“The pandemic itself is unpredictable therefore any action taken sometimes become obsolete. When we thought through, they renewed their licenses for 2020 but they could not do their business. Now for 2021, we thought that they could open it phase-wise but now we know that it is impossible. Even 2022 seems to be very difficult therefore we thought that if renewal period 2021 and 2022 can be escaped and their licenses be renewed only in 2023 that is why we facilitate this,” said the minister.

But Lyonpo added that for those who already renewed their licenses, the ministry will consider it as renewal for 2023.

Some of them might have renewed in January and February but that will be treated as renewal for 2023. So they need not renew again in 2023.”

However, if the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves and such businesses resume to operate before 2023, the license holders will have to renew their license as usual.

Kinzang Lhadon

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