Boulder exporters complain of delay in payments from importers

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The delay in receiving payments from importers is a major issue confronted by boulder exporters while exporting boulders from Bhutan to Bangladesh.

It has been learnt that payments for some exporters were blocked for months even after having had delivered the boulders to the destination.

The exporters feel there could be discrepancy between the importers and the banks in Bangladesh, which is resulting in delayed payments. The exporters say they have to make repeated appeals to receive the payments.

Payments of ChekiWangmo Transport, an exporter in Phuentsholing, were blocked for more than a month. The company received payments for goods worth more than Nu 3mn only this month.

The consignments get delivered to the importers after opening the Letter of Credit (LC) in Bangladeshi banks, where the payments should be made after the term of LC is delivered. ChekiWangmo Transport had payment due for three LCs where goods have been delivered last year. The transaction is done through banks of Bangladesh and the Bank of Bhutan. The importers need to have enough deposits in the banks before opening the LC for convenient payment making. The banks will make payments against the LC for consignment. 

The manager of ChekiWangmo Transport, NareshGhalley said the delay has caused repercussion in operating the business. “We don’t know how long such delays happen,” he said. The company uses 44 trucks to ferry boulders.  

Similarly, B2B enterprise, another boulder exporter, also faced delays in payment.

The proprietor said the payment after receiving the invoice should be made within three working days. “But it takes more than a week,” Ashish Lama said.  He is yet to receive payments for three bills amounting to Nu 1.1mn worth each.   

Meanwhile, most delays have been between December and January.

Ashish Lama feels the banks should have enough cash so that banks won’t have problem in making payments. “Almost all the exporters are facing similar issue,” he said, adding that it takes more than a month to receive payment for boulders that are supplied in August.

Meanwhile, some exporters have also raised the issue to the Bhutan Exporters Association.

Exporters say they are handicapped without timely payments as they also have to make multiple payments to others like the boulder suppliers and transporters.

“The delay compels us to operate in credit which cannot go long,” Ashish Lama said.

Also, the delay is causing the exporters to repay loan installment for the transport that they are hiring.

And while the number of trucks carrying boulders has increased, the intake capacity at the India Bangladesh border at Changrabandha-Burimari and Fulbari-Banglabandha, the two entry ports along Indo-Bangladesh border, has remained the same, thus lengthening the days. It has resulted in increasing cost, according to the exporters.

According to the exporters, not all Bhutanese trucks used to get access earlier. However, now the situation has become better as all Bhutanese trucks get equal access like Indian and Nepalese trucks. Earlier trucks would remain stranded for weeks. A truck sometimes could only make four trips a month. Also, truckers have to pay Nu 130 a day as parking fee.

“The trucks have to be compulsorily parked there, while trucks from other countries don’t,” a truck driver requesting anonymity said.

     Bhutan Transporters Association’s Vice President, TshewangRinzin, said despite having free trade agreement between the two countries, boulder exporters are still encountering challenges.

“There is need for the government look into the matter seriously as we are contributing to the government,” he said, adding that the exporters are facing many problems.

Meanwhile, there are almost 400 truckloads ferrying boulders from Bhutan to Bangladesh and belonging to more than 80 exporters.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing

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