The remaining Bhutanese in exile currently living in Eastern Nepal will be allowed to run their own business. They have now been allowed to apply for permanent account number (PAN) cards, to do small-scale businesses and pursue higher education in Nepal. PAN cards are a must to carry out small businesses in Nepal.
Even though a cabinet-level decision was taken almost two months ago, the decision has not been implemented yet. The leadership of the exiled Bhutanese has not been advised about the government decision.,
It is expected that PAN cards application and renewal of refugee identity cards will be given together.
There are 6,365 exiled Bhutanese still living in camps in Eastern Nepal after the third-country resettlement was stopped in 2016-17, as per Nepal Government records. Since then, UNHCR and other aid agencies have stopped their services as well. There are other 429 exiled Bhutanese who have not been issued refugee identification cards.
The decision to allow the exiled Bhutanese to run their own business came to reduce the financial burden on the Nepal Government. The Cabinet has already specified the nature of small and local businesses they can carry out.
Home Ministry officials said though the government has decided to make it easier for exiled Bhutanese refugees to do businesses and open bank accounts in Nepal, this is not part of any process of their local assimilation, which has been talked about in the recent past.
The Jhapa local administration, with the support of the Insurance Board of Nepal, has brought interested Bhutanese refugees under the insurance coverage to facilitate their access to health facilities and their children’s access to education.