English | Dzongkha Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Samtse’s business community pledges against fronting

Sep 14, 2021

Samtse’s business community decided not to engage in fronting. The members also agreed to report any such case as the economic affairs ministry sensitized them on fronting as a criminal offence.

As per section 284 (G) of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan (PCAAB) 2021, ‘A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of fronting, if the defendant leases or subleases, hires, or otherwise permits another person to use or operate one’s license unless otherwise permitted by laws or policies.’

The officiating regional director of the economic affairs ministry’s office in Phuentshogling, Sonam Dendup, said, “In case of Samtse, we believe there are no fronting cases, at least for now. We could not do a thorough inspection.”

Singey Dorji, a businessman in the town, said there is a risk of fronting happening in Samtse since it is a bordering town.

“Some may have committed it intentionally or unintentionally.”

“The practice is unhealthy for our economy,” he added.

Fronting has been graded as a criminal offence after the Parliament passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill during the winter session. According to section 284(H), fronting is a felony of fourth-degree, or value-based sentencing, whichever is higher, if the offence takes place between Bhutanese and a person other than a Bhutanese national or between persons other than a Bhutanese national. A fourth-degree felony carries a prison term ranging from three to five years.

Similarly, if fronting is between Bhutanese nationals, it will be considered a violation for the first conviction. If repeated, it will be a petty misdemeanour and lead to cancellation of license. The prison term for a petty misdemeanour is between one month and less than a year.

Officials said the open borders with free movement of people, import dependence, and free trade agreement are some factors encouraging fronting in the bordering towns.

“Besides, a license holder involved in fronting receives a commission without having to invest or take risks of running into a loss.”

Passang Dorji, Samtse

Edited by Sonam Wangdi

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