Street hawk­ers not il­le­gal but in­for­mal

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Sell­ing foods in the street is not il­le­gal but in­for­mal which is ba­sic part of the larger macroe­co­nomic struc­ture all over the world was stated by Druk Nyam­rup Tshopa ( DNT) in press release is­sued last Wed­nes­day.

The party col­lected the views shared by street hawk­ers from Thim­phu, Samtse, Zham­gang, Haa, Tashiyangtse, Mon­gar, S/ jongkhar and Pu­nakha on how the ban has af­fected their liv­ing stan­dard and said that pro­hi­bi­tion is not an op­tion.

About 43 hawk­ers in Thim­phu stopped sell­ing Thukpa ( por­ridge) and other items on the street con­sid­er­ing it as il­le­gal by po­lice of­fi­cials last month. The de­ci­sion came af­ter dis­cus­sion among of­fi­cials from Royal Bhutan Po­lice, Depart­ment of Trade, Thim­phu Thromde and Bhutan Agri­cul­ture and Food Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity in May ear­lier this year.

“DNT would like to ad­vo­cate build­ing ‘ in­clu­sive cities’ not ‘ world- class cities’ that would ex­clude the ma­jor­ity of our pop­u­la­tion, es­pe­cially the poor,” and said the coun­try’s ur­ban poli­cies are un­re­cep­tive to­wards the in­for­mal traders.

“There is no law” the party said that they checked the laws and poli­cies to see if Thukpa sell­ing was really il­le­gal and also to find out whether there was any law in re­strict­ing street sell­ers from do­ing their sim­ple busi­ness.

“Apart from il­le­gal­ity, sell­ing food on the streets has is­sues re­lated to san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene, lit­ter­ing and cre­at­ing con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment.” said Po­lice Chief, Bri­gadier Kipchu Nam­gyel

The press release also men­tioned that harm­ing them would be cre­at­ing in­equal­ity through in­jus­tice, fur­ther widen­ing the gap be­tween the rich and poor in the coun­try. The party also in­sists act is not only a se­ri­ous is­sue of ‘ eco­nomic in­jus­tice’ but also that of ‘ so­cial in­jus­tice’ as most of them come from low in­come group.

“When you weave Kira/ Gho, grow veg­eta­bles, fruits, rice, and other cash crops and sell, you don’t have li­cense but your weav­ing busi­ness is not il­le­gal, it’s in­for­mal; sim­i­larly when you make thukpa and sell, you don’t li­cense but your thukpa busi­ness is not il­le­gal, it’s in­for­mal.” the press release stated.

DNT stated that in­for­mal econ­omy is here to stay. The Par­lia­ment, the Gov­ern­ment, and the so­ci­ety must rec­og­nize that in­for­mal econ­omy is a per­ma­nent fea­ture of the econ­omy, polity and so­ci­ety.

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