A group of vendors have approached the Prime Minister after the Centenary Farmers Market (CFM) management increased the rent. This didn’t go well with the agriculture minister.
During the Friday meet, Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Penjor said that vegetable vendors are causing disturbances without following proper procedures.
As per the 17th Board Meeting held on 29 October, the CFM Management notified that the stall rent has been revised with effect from December 1. The office has also asked the vendors to pay the Security Deposit and Advance of two month›s equivalent rent.
According to vegetable vendors they were also asked to sign one-year contract for the place allotted to them .
Vegetable vendors are unhappy with the new rules. The chairperson of vegetable vendors’ committee, Dhendup said that they forwarded their request to the Board meeting to keep the rules as before as all the vendors comes from humble background. “Without response, members then approached to the Agriculture Minister. When there was no change from the ministry, we approached the prime minister,” he said.
Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that in the pretext of democracy, people should not do whatever they like. “Vendors of CFM going to Prime Minister is not the right procedure,” the minister said. “Being the chairman of the Board, their appeal should have come to me before going to Prime Minister’s office.”
One of the members of CFM, Lobzang Wangchuk said that the management should have made the change seeking consensus from the 415 vendors. Nu.78 and Nu.47 is the increased rents for stalls at the ground floor in the first floor. We were not allowed to raise our voice during the one-hour 28 members meeting. “We want to pay tax but with concession,” he said.
Another member, Dorji said, “Why CFM chairman was not allowed in meeting and kept standing outside.” He said that Director General of CFM said that it is in his hand to close the market or keep open.
Gomchen, another member said, “CFM is a market for farmers from 20 dzongkhags and may need the sign of 20 dzongdas when they are asked to leave the stall,if not able to accord with the change.” He said that the vendors want some consideration but are not totally against with the new change.
Another vendor, Yeshi Lhaden said that most of the vendors are widows and it’s very hard to comply with the new rule as earning from the market are not even sufficient to raise family.
According to Agriculture and Forestry minister, «The increase in rent and change in paying system is to improve the market. He said, «Government has been paying around Nu.19, 35,000 as subsidy rent and vendors should at least try to pay little for the improvement of facilities. The increase in rent is very less compared to what they earn.»
Speaking to Bhutan Today, Director General of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), Namgay Wangchuk said that vendors are giving false statement. He said that Government and management will never tell lie.
The director general said, “Vendors who are middle men and not farmers are raising the issue to create chaos.” He said that they were called for meetings and the changes were explained to the chairperson. The stall rent increase is nominal, just by Nu.10-30 but vendors are taking it as heavy. The increase was in line with order from Board Members after the Organization Development exercise to pay to sweepers, securities, maintenance and pay bills. The contract is to protect vendors and paying rent in one month is to reduce disturbance people waiting in queue every week. The security deposit will be given back when they leave their stall.
He said that these changes are in line with tenancy policy and their little contribution is to improve the market, making it model for the region.
By Sangay Rabten