English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

More than a hundred businesses surrender licenses as Fronting law sensitization is underway- P/ling

Sep 17, 2021

From 274 businesses in Phuentshogling suspected of engaging in fronting, 115 businesses have surrendered their licenses so far. Today, business entities engaged in fronting can surrender their licenses without having to pay any penalties. However, they will have to face criminal charges later if they don’t come forward now.

Since beginning last year, 60 trading licenses and 55 service licenses such as bar, restaurant and workshops were surrendered. They were engaged in fronting. However, more than 100 business owners have denied the fronting accusation and given a written statement saying that they are not involved in fronting.

According to the regional director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), it is hard to conclude who all are engaged in fronting as there are many Indians who actually own a valid business license in Phuentshogling.

“Due to COVID-19, the border gates are closed, so those who own business license here couldn’t come in. Few also didn’t come in thinking that business is a bit down here. So, all the shops are currently closed. People think all the closed shops are involved in fronting. We cannot say that now. Only after we start the strict inspection, we will know whether it is fronting or not,” said Sonam Dendup, the Regional Director of the MoEA in Phuentshogling.

He also some Bhutanese license holders are engaged in minting easy money through commissions with someone investing from across the border.

Earlier this year, the business fronting was classified as a criminal offence in the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2021. As per the Penal Code, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence 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 law will come into effect from January next year.

The regional office for the MoEA is sensitizing the business community in the border towns as fronting is suspected to be widely spread there because of an open border with free movement of people. The office said ignorance can’t be an excuse once the law is implemented.

“In order to prevent people from being the victims of the law, the regional offices across the country are undertaking the awareness programme across the country,” he added.

Beginning next year, the office is going to implement strict inspections and monitor the businesses. There are over three thousand business entities under Phuentshogling thromde.

Sonam Penjor, Phuentshogling

Edited by Sonam

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