The Bengal Chamber’s Business Delegation to Bhutan 12th-14th May 2015, Thimphu

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Kolkata, May 29:

 

Dr. Alok Roy, President, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry, addressed a Press Meet to announce the outcome of a Chamber Business Delegation to Thimphu, Bhutan. He said, “We are happy to announce that Bhutan’s Hon’ble Prime Minister has extended an invitation to our Hon’ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. We are pleased to note that the Bhutan Consulate will be coordinating this visit, and Mr. Dashi Karma Tsering Namgyal, Consul General of Bhutan in Kolkata, has been in touch with the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s office.”

 

The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry had organized a Business Delegation to Thimpu, Bhutan in association with The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 12th and 13th May 2015. Some meetings continued till 14th May.

 

It was a twenty-member delegation led by Dr. Alok Roy, including three members from the Chamber Secretariat.

DSC_0163 DSC_0164The delegation visited His Excellency Tshering Tobgay, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bhutan on 13th May. The Hon’ble Prime Minister received the delegation very warmly, and observed that India is not only the closest neighbour of Bhutan but the most valued partner country as well. He also noted that growth of India and specifically West Bengal is crucial for the growth of Bhutan. He spoke fondly about Bhutan’s association with India and West Bengal and said that Siliguri is truly the gateway to Bhutan. He placed special emphasis on Bhutan’s reliance on West Bengal and Assam, and congratulated West Bengal on the success of the Global Bengal Business Summit on 7th and 8th January 2015 that was organized by the Government of West Bengal. Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry had participated in it through The Bengal Chamber.

 

The Hon’ble Prime Minister was invited to launch the Confederation of Eastern Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CECCI), spearheaded by The Bengal Chamber to bring the Chambers of Commerce in the ‘East’ (spanning the Eastern and North Eastern States and those from the eastern neighbours of India) together and create a common platform for the greater benefit of the common membership and industry and business at large. The forum would be utilized for B2B networking, communicating with the local Governments, experience / best practices sharing and even for addressing day-to-day operational issues faced by the cross-section of the membership who might need a helping hand from Partner Chambers while transacting business in neighbouring States and/or Countries.

Ms. Nina Tshering La, Counsellor, Embassy of India in Thimpu, Bhutan accompanied the delegation in the meeting.

 

The delegation also visited His Excellency Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, Hon’ble Minister of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan on 13th May 2015. The Hon’ble Minister highlighted that the India-Bhutan relationship is at its peak. He said, “The cooperation has set a standard for the entire world. The foundation stone of the 600MW Kholongchu Hydro- electric project, a joint venture between India and Bhutan was laid by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. Bhutan and India now produce the cheapest and cleanest energy.”

 The Royal Government of Bhutan is committed to simplifying business processes for entrepreneurs and corporates alike. IT infrastructure and IT applications would play an important role in this procedure. The Minister spoke about this while responding to a query made by Mr. Pradip Bhowmick, Partner, KPMG Advisory Services.

 Mr. Subrata Dutta (Director, The George Telegraph Group) proposed that George Telegraph would be delighted to be Partner of the Government in the area of Skill Development. The partnership would ensure that the youth in Bhutan is trained with skills relevant to the industry. He was advised to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.

 

The delegates had a lengthy discussion with Ms. Nina Tshering La on the 13th before meeting the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Minister of Economic Affairs. Ms. Nina Tshering La individually interacted with the delegates and advised on their scope of business in Bhutan. She was happy that the Chamber had organized such a high level delegation. The economies of the two countries are well integrated. However, many Indian firms have reservations given the size of the market in Bhutan. The business collaborations are however increasing. There are 16 Indian FDIs in Bhutan.

 

She shared with the delegation in general and Mr. Subrata Dutta in particular that unemployment is an issue which needs to be addressed in Bhutan. Therefore, skill development and vocational training have great opportunities. Mr. Dutta observed that his Group would also be interested to invest in Bhutan if he had an investing partner. Mr. Dhruv Bhalla (VP, SREI Infrastructure Finance) commented that he had fruitful discussions during the B2B Meetings on the previous day. They would be interested in smart grid, financing of equipments and IT services for rural development.

 

The delegates had the B2B Meetings on 12th May. The meeting was attended by Mr. Phub Tshering, Secretary General; Mr. Kesang Wangdi Deputy Secretary General and other senior members of the Bhutan Chamber. Mr. Tshenchok Thinlay, Executive Director, Bhutan Airlines was also present.

The Bengal Chamber is in discussions with Mr. Dashi Karma Tsering Namgyal for organizing a Indo-Bhutan Golf Tournament in Kolkata where Golfers from Bhutan would participate. It was decided that a return programme would be organized in Bhutan where 20-25 golfers and industry captains would be invited. On this subject, Dr. Alok Roy had a meeting with the Bhutan Chamber and Col. Jambay Dorji, President, Bhutan Shooting Federation.

 

The programme concluded on 13th May 2015 with an MoU signing between the two Chambers.  Mr. Ugen Tsechup Dorji, President, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry was present at the Concluding Programme. He said, “Bhutan may be considered as the regional manufacturing hub. There are many areas in which The Bengal Chamber and Bhutan Chamber may work together. Import of vegetables and fruits from Bhutan to India is one such area. Bhutan could be the “vegetable basket” for the region. In fact, the country enjoyed such a climate that seasonal vegetables could be grown all through the year in different locations