24 FDI projects approved during government’s tenure

A total of 24 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects were registered during the government’s tenure, economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk said on November 20. The total number of FDI projects today, he said, was 55.

He was responding to a question in the National Assembly from Nanong-Shumar MP Dechen Zangmo during the question hour.

However, lyonpo’s response, which was cut short by the Speaker, did not feature the details of the FDI projects that were approved since January 2014 and their total worth in US dollars although the MP had asked for. She had also asked where the projects had come from.

Within the last two years, the government approved 11 projects, eight of which have started works to set up their businesses. Another three have started their business operations, he said, without naming the projects.

He said while the FDI inflow was important for Bhutan to develop its economy, the country faced challenges that cannot be addressed immediately. He said the country had a small market and weak infrastructure among other challenges.

“It’s not possible to develop infrastructure in four to five years, we need the tenures of about two to three governments,” Lyonpo said.  He also said that ease of doing business-ranking needs to be improved.

“Both our private representatives and prospective investors are not satisfied with the ease of doing business in the country,” he said. “The government is doing everything possible to improve the business environment in the country.”

Underlining the importance of investor-friendly policies to attract FDI, the minister said that the amendment of FDI policy 2010 by the present government has been helpful in attracting interest of prospective investors. “We felt that more people have shown interest to invest in the country after the amendment of the FDI policy.”

He said the rules and regulations of FDI were also amended. However, he added that policies needed to be streamlined further looking at the needs.

Lyonpo highlighted some of the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure, citing the examples of the development of industrial estates, roads and airports. He said the development of industrial estates would boost infrastructure.

He said widening of the Thimphu-Trashigang highway and the development of Yonphula airport are in full swing. “Yonphula airport will be ready by August next year,” he said.

The economic affairs minister informed that the construction of a mini dry port in Phuentsholing has already begun and that it would be completed with the 11th Plan. Works on the Pasakha bypass has also started, he informed.

“We cannot expect the result overnight, but we are working hard,” he said.