By Phurpa Wangmo
The government insists that they are not here to bring an end to the Drayang business but to professionalize it.
Earlier Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering stated that if Drayangs decided to close, the government would look at the loans and accumulated rents of their businesses and even work on the rehabilitation of the girls working in these set-ups.
However, the government has remained firm on its stance to prohibit request systems in such entertainment centres despite it being the chief source of revenue for these businesses.
The Drayang Association, which comprises of around 60 owners from across the country, says the request system is how Drayangs make money and that the government should find a viable alternative that is beneficial to both parties.
Stating that the government is looking at bringing major reforms in the Drayang setup, the PM earlier said Drayangs need to fulfill the technical requirements and do away with the song and dance request system. This was decided in a cabinet meeting last month.
Some of the technical requirements as stated in the Rules on Places of Entertainment 2018 are separate entry and exit doors, separate changing rooms and toilets for males and females, and the need for a smoking room.
In addition, a separate childcare room for employees’ children is also required, while the government has also called for different waiters to cater to customers so that contacts are minimal.
Members of the Druk Drayang Association said they needed clear guidance from the government as, despite making repeated attempts for intervention, nothing has been done so far.
A member said that they have been taking the major brunt of the pandemic as their businesses remained closed for almost two years, and that their rental charges and other operating costs are still accumulating. However, they are yet to hear for any meaningful intervention from the government to bail them out from the ensuing predicament they are faced with.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office stated that the economic affairs ministry’s implementation plan to reopen Drayangs is awaiting final endorsement from the cabinet.
The July cabinet meeting also decided to support Drayangs with soft loans through the National CSI Development Bank to help meet the technical requirements. In addition, support for those who want to close their Drayangs and venture into other businesses was also approved.
However, members of Druk Drayang Association said that no one has got the loan as yet.
However, the PMO says the CSI bank received 56 loan applications, of which 34, consisting mostly of entertainment centres, have been approved and will be disbursed on August 20.
Earlier, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering had hinted on how reforming the Drayang businesses would contribute to a decent society and also implied that workers, the majority of who are young girls, would also be ensured new means of livelihood.
Among many other changes that most Drayang owners and workers anticipate, safety of workers and better working perks and atmosphere stand out as chief boosters. Drayang owners also say the government should implement it on the ground than just plan because the problem has been accumulating for quite a long time now.
The government had initiated the closure of Drayangs and other places of entertainment, including Discotheques and Karaoke joints, in March last year and business have been put at a screeching halt since then.