Bhutan note trouble hits Jaigaon trade
Over 50 traders who deal in grocery and medicines at Jaigaon in Alipurduar district are facing a currency crisis as they are in possession of Bhutan legal tender Ngultrum which cannot be exchanged with Indian Rupee because of the lockdown.
“Thousands of people who reside at Jaigaon and surrounding places work in the adjoining areas in Bhutan. They buy groceries and medicines from us and made payments in Bhutan currency. Residents of Phuentsholing also make purchases in Jaigaon and pay us in Ngultrum,” said a businessman at Jaigaon.
After a trader accumulates a considerable amount of Bhutanese currency, he crosses over to Phuentsholing, on the other side of the border, and deposit the sum in a bank. He then gets a demand draft which is deposited in his bank account in India.
“The lockdown has posed a problem for us as we cannot enter Bhutan to deposit the cash,” said Rama Shankar Gupta, secretary, Jaigaon Merchant Association.
“The Bhutanese currency is not accepted anywhere in India other than Jaigaon. We have two problems. As we don’t have cash, we cannot pay for the goods that we have already bought from retailers and place orders for new items,” he added.
Gupta said daily sales turnover at the Jaigaon local market ranged from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore.
On Friday, some traders visited Jaigaon Development Authority assistant executive officer P.D. Bhutia and sought his intervention.
“We told him that we had no shortage of money to place the orders so that we can get fresh stocks to meet the demand of people. But a major portion of the cash we have is in the Bhutanese currency and we need help from the administration to deposit the amounts in a Bhutan bank or at least get the currency exchanged,” said a trader who deals in medicines.
Bhutia said he would take up the matter with officials concerned.