Businesses trying to stay afloat in Phuentshogling

Phuentshogling town, considered the commercial hub of the country, is idle today. Due to several lockdowns and other challenges caused by the frequent COVID outbreaks, business in the region has been severely affected. Many have moved to other places. But for those who have stayed back, surviving has become a struggle.

After several months under lockdown, Phuentshogling town is slowly springing back to life once again. However, for the business community, the road to recovery seems long and tough.

Twenty-eight-year-old Sonam Tshering runs a hair salon. He says business has been bleak since he reopened his shop. Before the pandemic struck, he would earn at least about Nu 3,000 in a day. But now, he says he doesn’t get many customers. Sonam is yet to pay his shop’s rent for the past four months. “We even had to make a token system to control the crowd. These days, we get very few customers,” he said.

It is the same for almost all small business owners in the community.

Choizang, who also owns a Salon in the town, said she had to vacate her shop since she could not pay the rent. “(The owner) asked me to vacate since he wanted to start his own business.”

Meanwhile, Restaurateur Pema Wangchuk is hopeful that building owners in the town will help out by waiving the rents. “It is challenging since we have to pay the rents while the customers visiting us is very less,” he said.

People say they are now without any option and are hoping for the government to help out.

The Prime Minister, during a recent press conference, said people in Phuentshogling should get bank loans if they are struggling with their businesses. “For those who are severely affected and cannot afford to meet ends, we have His Majesty’s Relief Kidu. The kidu has benefitted many people until now,” said Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering.

Lyonchhen added that although the government will support them, people now need to come up with new ideas for their businesses. With over 92 per cent of Phuentshogling’s population above 12 years fully vaccinated, the town may not have to undergo lockdowns like in the past.

Sonam Penjor, Phuentshogling

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen

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