CSI flagship program to create 2,000 jobs by 2023

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The government has allocated Nu 1.2bn for the Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) flagship program in the flagship resources outlay for a year of which Nu 500mn is mobilized with a Nu 600mn resource gap.

This was presented by the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) Secretariat to the Prime Minister last week.

A GNHC official mentioned that this year, with the establishment of CSI bank, there will be opportunities for starts up to link up with CSI soon. “We see scope for the CSI bank when CSIs become autonomous,” said a GNHC official adding that starts up will be autonomous too.

Most of the programs under CSI flagship have duplication with the initiatives of India-Bhutan startup program including trainings, so they need to be screened.

“We are proposing that some activities are taken out of CSI flagship with the consolidated with other initiatives or India-Bhutan startup and even so budget needs to be rationalized,” said the GNHC official.

The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said, once India-Bhutan startup takes place, 35 entrepreneurs will be taken to exposure to India, 100 potential startups for long-term trainings and there is plan to build the entrepreneurs development institute this year. “Some activities are redundant therefore they need to be stopped.”

The CSI flagship program targets to create 2,000 job opportunities by 2023. From this, 1,200 jobs will be created in the CSI sector and around 800 in start-up centers, said a GNHC official.

He added that the remaining budget of the CSI flagship program after allocating to CSIs, will go to the CSI bank. “I would expect half of the money from CSI flagship program to be given to CSI bank,” he said.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said the much awaited CSI bank will be established in next the two weeks. The bank will have its branch in all the 205 gewogs.

“The CSI bank would help rural borrowers with access to low interest loans and to address the growing issues of farmers defaulting on loans,” he said.

Similarly, the CSI flagship program aims to substitute 10 products by the end of 2020.  Officials said products such as sanitary towels and noodles are currently on focus.

The officials said Chechey sanitary pads are available in more than 15 retail stores with joint product promotion going on. To this, Lyonchhen said they are trying to help the startup in marketing the products through schools.

Focus of the CSI flagship program will be on pasteurized butter, cheese, and yoghurt, pencil and potato products in 2020 to 2021.

From 2021 to 2022, bricks and hollow blocks, vegetables and fruit juice and cooking oil will be in focus. Similarly, herbal tea products and honey by-products will be emphasized in 2022-23.

“Most of the startups are facing challenges with access to market, but compared to early years, it’s becoming better now,” the GNHC official said. 

Further, Lyonchhen said CSIs have the potential to narrow the gap through economic diversification focused on boosting economic activities in villages and local communities, enhancing rural income and productively engaging our growing young population.

In the current fiscal year, 64 job opportunities out of a target of 300 were created. Lyonchhen said enabling independent and successful start-ups would be more beneficial than counting the number of individuals employed.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu

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