Mistaken government

The Government has used our foreign currency reserves to address a severe rupee crunch in the kingdom. Last week they sold US$ 200 million from our reserves to pay off the Rs 8 billion outstanding debt on an overdraft account with the State Bank of India.

The Royal Monetary Authority borrows rupees from a special credit line with the Government of India and an overdraft facility maintained with the State Bank of India. The special arrangement with the Government of India permits our government to borrow rupees up to a maximum of Rs 3 billion, and the overdraft facility allows borrowings up to Rs 8 billion.

The RMA had exhausted both lines of credit before it recently cleared the Rs 8 billion loan.

The government has been remarkably quiet on the issue. So here are some questions, questions I will take up officially with them.

What caused the rupee crisis?

We import more goods and services from India than we export. So our trade balance with India is negative. And that causes a rupee deficit. But that has always been so. And that – the trade balance and the resulting rupee deficit – has always been easily resolved by the large amounts of rupees that the Indian government pumps into our economy in the form of generous aid to our government.

So why did we face such a big rupee crisis recently? Why did we have to borrow as much as Rs 11 billion to finance the rupee deficit? Rs 8 billion of that was borrowed in the past year alone, and that, in spite of increased Indian grant aid and huge inflows of rupees for the construction of mega projects.

The government has had to sell US$ 200 million to address the rupee deficit. Otherwise, RMA would not have been able to maintain the ngultrum’s exchange peg with the rupee. And we wouldn’t have been able to continue buying goods and services from India.

In other words, our economy was in serious trouble.

And the government had to bail it out by injecting US$ 200 million into it. US$ 200 million works out to Nu 10.3 billion at the current exchange rate. That works out to 14% of the GDP. And that is a huge bailout by any measure.

So why was our economy in such big trouble? What caused the rupee crisis?

What must be done to prevent another crisis?

Our foreign exchange reserves are not reserves in the strict sense – they are actually savings accrued carefully over several decades. The government has used US$ 200 million of it, in one go, to bail out our economy.

It’s obvious that if we don’t do anything different, if we don’t learn from our mistake, we will face another big rupee deficit by this time next year. Should that happen, the Constitution, which requires that foreign currency reserves must meet at least one year’s essential imports, will prevent the government from selling our foreign reserves for Indian currency. This simply means that the government will not be able to bail out the economy as easily as it has done this time.

So the question is, what must we do to prevent a similar crisis next year? How will the government prevent another rupee deficit from developing? What are the government’s plans?

How will the foreign exchange reserves be rebuilt?

The government has announced that the current reserves, equivalent to US$ 702 million, can finance 13 months of essential import. So even though the government has used up more than 20% of our reserves, what remains is still within the minimum limit set by Constitution according to which, “A minimum foreign currency reserve that is adequate to meet the cost of not less than one year’s essential import must be maintained.”

US$ 702 million at today’s exchange rate of Nu 51.5 for every US$ is about Nu 36.1 billion. And RMA has calculated that this amount – US$ 702 or Nu 36.1 billion – finances 13 months of essential imports. By dividing Nu 36.1 billion by 13 and multiplying it by 12 we now know that Nu 33.4 billion would be required to finance one year’s essential imports. The Constitution requires that the government set aside a minimum of this amount in the foreign exchange reserve.

But by this time next year, if the current trend continues, the volume of essential imports would have increased. That, plus inflation, would mean that the government would need set aside that that much more money in foreign currency to meet the minimum requirements set out in the Constitution.

But since the reserves must be maintained in foreign currency, there’s something else the government must think about: exchange rates.

Today the exchange rate has fallen to an all-time low. What when it strengthens? What if, by this time next year or the following year, the exchange rate rises to 2008 levels of Nu 40.4 per US$? That would mean that US$ 827 million would be required to finance one year’s essential imports at today’s quantity and today’s prices.

That would mean that the government would need to increase the foreign currency reserves by at least US$ 125 million. And that is without even factoring in increased consumption of essential imports and price increases for the essential imports.

The government has spent US$ 200 million. And the government has stated that the US$ 702 million remaining as foreign currency reserves is enough to meet the Constitutional requirements.

What we now need to know is how the government will replenish the foreign currency reserves to ensure that the reserves remain well within the minimum limits set by the Constitution. How will the government rebuild our foreign currency reserves?

Our economy was in serious trouble – that’s why the government used our foreign currency reserves. But that is only a stopgap measure, one that does not address the real issues and one that can be used only this once.

So the government must get serious. The government must identify its mistakes. The government must accept those mistakes. And the government must rectify those mistakes.

Otherwise, our economy, tiny as it is, will collapse.

 

Facebook Comments:

Comments

  1. THis is a very very dangerous situation Bhutan is facing currently … Govt. Expenses needs to be minimized …. some ministers while traveling to their constituency spends about Nu. 0.5 million

    Govt. Needs to control its expenses or there would be a economic problem sooner or latter…

    I am foreseeing that the expenditure will only grow since 2012 will be the last year for the Govt.

    Plz take that long term economic interest of the country rather than the short time political gain …
    tx

  2. Fuzzyshade says:

    Thank you for such an elaborate explanation on what has happened when all of us are just oblivious to these facts. It is indeed quite disturbing and worrisome to learn about such happenings. I pray that the Government and the people of Bhutan work hand in hand towards the better future of our country.

  3. the rupee crisis is worrying..the concerns & questions you raise are pertinent..
    the inept wangdi norbu & government always quote the trade deficit with india as the major reason..that is true, perhaps only partially..but what about rupee receipts for electricity tariff payments, goi grants, goi loans for hydopower construction? surely they exceed the rupee outflows..
    selling off $$$ for rupees is not the solution..getting the right monetary policies in place is..year after year we see wangdi norbu reading out a prepared budget presentation in his monotonous style..with complete absence of financial policies which are linked to realities in the economy..   
    with $$$ grants to decline imminently, how will bhutan service its $$$ loans which are now due for repayment.. 
    keeping wangdi norbu to look after the finance ministry will land us in a situation where soon there will be a shortage of rupees as well as $$$..
    it is no wonder he was unable to interpret basic tax legislation & landed in them losing a historic constitutional case in the high court & supreme court..it is no wonder the ol called for the man’s resignation..it is no wonder our economy is in this mess..

  4. For the first time i genuine enjoyed reading an article here. Must congratulate OL that your analytical skills are showing some improvement.

    best

  5. OL has asked pertinent questions, but as responsible arm of government he should also suggest some solution??

    My own, non-economist solution:
    1. Increase electricity export tariff. The current tariff below Nu 2 per unit electricity is peanut by any standard.
    2. Rationalize (put on hold temporarily) construction industries or boom as it is known today. This sector is drain on Banks, insurance companies and NPF. Almost 80-90% of money goes to India for almost 80-90% of building materials and labor overhead costs.
    3. Rationalize expenses of higher-ups in society. Bulk of Indian rupee or dollar reserves goes on trips of powerful in our society.
    4. Put on hold vehicle loans which eats into rupee and dollar reserves. In this way, we can limit emissions and congestion in urban areas.
    5. Encourage local small scale agro or food processing and production industries by attracting some form of FDI
    6. Have a national level consultation on rationalization of import of luxury goods. This indeed is a drain on our dollar reserves.
    7. Improve health and education facilities and services in the country so that most of referral cases and higher education needs can be met from indigenous capacities. In this way, most of rupee reserves will stay in the country.
    8. Improve and develop service industries(e.g. tourism) to attract more tourists and green backs.

    Add more!!!!!

  6. Perhaps the answer is looking beyond the passes of Dochula, where the majority of the chunk of money is being spent. Those mega hydro electric projects are being built at millions and gazillions of ngultrum and as much as we are thankful to our brother neighbor, the fact still remains that a major chunk of the money coming in is spent on buying materials (as Bhutan neither has the capacity nor the ability at the moment to support the material requirement) and other necessities for the purpose of building our long term future. Just a matter of waiting on the hydro electric projects coming to life in our near and dear future. some people hereabout have uttered their dismay on ministers spending 0.5 million on traveling to the constituencies, i think the crust of the matter is not in that when one has to consider about billions. The question is when the hydro projects are finally completed, would we get to reap the rate at par with accepted international benchmark (if any) or would we like many business houses be happy smiling about the monthly commissions.

  7. Few suggestions from my personal observation to minimize the Rupee outflow. OL should point out these facts to the government.

    1. Aside from material import cost, bhutanese who import from india are loosing 4% vat. As per the bilateral trade agreement, VAT (Indian part) is exempted on all the goods exported from india to bhutan. Once we declare our purchase or goods at the bhutan customs, we can obtain tax exemption certificate from them. Upon submission of the tax exemption certificates, the suppliers (indians) are liable to refund the 4% VAT charged against the sale of goods. However, traders in Jaigaon do not follow this policy. Moreover, most of the bhutanese have no idea about this system. I strongly feel that govt. should take up this issue with the govt. of india. The transaction in jaigaon is very huge. We may be able to save certain portion of rupee outflow through this healthy business practice.

    2. As per the agreement with the govt. of india, 10.3 % CED (central excise duty) is exempted on all purchase from india for those projects. Our govt. must advice bhutanese contractors to purchase the materials directly from the manufacturers instead of indian retailers.

    3. RMA must look into the illegal purchase of rupee from indian pan shops in border towns by bhutanese.All the rupees sold through Pan shops are exchanged by those vendors from bhutanese banks.

  8. 10.3 % CED is exempted for GOI funded projects. sorry

  9. Sonam penjor says:

    Dear Ol, you deserve more than what you are paid for. Someone said long before
    ” Its difficult to get a man understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.
    This is exactly why we have finance minister in his chair.

    Ol, your blogs gives us a lot of pictures of our country and we do know that, from your blog, even the govt. gets disturb, please keep on posting such articles.

    Thanks

  10. pem tshering says:

    Ol, great job! DPT government might leave behind a heavy loan for the next government and the people of Bhutan is likely to face increasing number of problems. Anyway, that is what we have asked for and we will be given by the DPT – Dictatorial President/party’s Tyranny. I am now worrying so much in the land of GNH.

  11. It is said to know that our economy is suffering and at any time might collapse before the end of 2013 election. So we may not get good fund to finance the next govt. Indeed it is surprise when our gov uses 200 millon dollar to bail out in a years time and still complacent that our reserve of 702 million is enought to import another 13 month.

    It is good that clear picture was brought in in the OL blogs and it is time our citizens should be worrying on the news. Even our news papers does not give clear picture of the story of selling dollars.

    I as an economist feel unsafe to entirely depend on the reserves to import the necessities it is utmost important for the govt to look for alternatives.

    I would suggest:

    1. Stop import of foreign cars
    2. No salary increase instead control inflation
    3. Use domestice consultancy service instead of foriegn.
    4. Change mind set of the policy makers from foreign to nationals.
    5. No more foreign trips by the ministers
    6.taxation policy should be changed through proper chanel
    7.Increase export base like agricultural goods and make proper arrangement or trade relation. Our farmers like orange, apple and potatoe exporters often land up in the mercy of the syndication
    8. Import of necessites goods like milpowder, rice , suger should be replaced by increasing the home production with farm mechanisation and dairy farmings from semi-commercial ro commercials farmings.

    9.Donors should be monitoring the utilisation of funds strickly.

    Please think that i am raising this suggestion for the govt not my personal satisfaction

  12. I think every knows that our economy is in a turmoil, the question here is not what are the problems? But rather what would you do to solve this problem if your party was running the government?

    It is high time for the next election so I would suggest if your honor could provide a layout of your plans and policies intact to tackle the problems..

  13. I am not surprised. This has been in the making for several decades now. Management of our economy has been in a mess for many, many years. Beside the recently launched (2008?) economic policy, I don’t think we’ve ever had any comprehensive and serious economic policy in the past. That’s why our private sector is still very weak and fragile. That’s also why a handful of people are becoming super rich while the majority remains poor with no opportunity to climb up the economic ladder.

    Lack of leadership, strategic thinking and coordination is, perhaps, the main cause. As far as our economic future is concerned, people in Finance Ministry, Economic Affairs Ministry, RMA, PM’s Economic Advisory Council, GNHC, and DHI should be sleeping in the same bed, but they are not even flirting with each other.

    Imagine what our economic situation will be when foreign aid, which funds most of our development projects, stops within next few years. Most of our people in private sector, especially contractors and consultants, will suffer. It will also have an adverse impact on shopkeepers, construction materials and equipment suppliers, automobile workshops, and other service providers. This will also worsen the prevailing unemployment situation as large number of people in private companies will lose their jobs.

    Often I wonder if we have any serious economists practicing in our country. I know some bright Bhutanese who have studied economics in great universities abroad. But sadly, I think, their knowledge and skills are wasted as most of them are doing administrative works. Perhaps they too have given up as our leaders usually listen to only foreign consultants.

    I also think some unnecessary expenditure like Mckinsey consultancy, CDG, countless foreign and in-country travel by Ministers accompanied by large teams of officials, pay hikes, Ministers’ enclave, and hosting of expensive international and regional conferences may have partly contributed to this unfortunate economic situation.

    I also wonder if FDI in hotel and banking businesses from Indian companies like hotel Taj and Punjab bank contributes negatively or positively to the Rupee crunch. Are they sending the profits they make here back to India?

  14. Hon’ble Lyonpo, In this context let me share with you some jigsaw puzzles to ponder upon and find out how our hard earned rupee reserves flow out of the country.

    The so called Bhutan’s Software Export Industry has been making headlines for a few months now, ever since it died three or four years ago. This unseen Industry is reported to have stood second, just next to Hydropower in terms of Bhutan’s export. However, I have few questions that I fail to understand. Firstly, if the Software exports are so much, why do we still have a rupee crunch in the country? Why is rupee reserve earned by hydro power just invisible or melting away?
    The so called Software Export Industry is fake and devised to hoodwink the Government. The root of all problems starts with the metals and palm oil Industries in Pasakha which are proxy owned by the Bhutanese. These are fronting businesses of whose the real owners are Indian Businessmen across the border. Tax shelter in Bhutan gives these Industries, an edge over their counterparts based in India. At the end of the day these businessmen have to devise some mechanism to smuggle the money earned in Bhutan into India. The software Export perfectly fits this plan and ever since this dubious plan was devised, it has been draining the Bhutanese Economy.
    Here is my analysis of how the whole setup operates:
    The Government allows palm oil and metals to be imported to Bhutan duty free if the company can earn hard currency. The so called software wings of these companies make software and export it to third countries like Hongkong from where they claim to get hard currency. However, I have a doubt whether the hard currency actually comes to the country or if it is just in papers. The responsible agencies may consider investigating this.
    It is claimed that the Bhutanese company downloads the software made in India and puts them into the CDs.
    Little is known about the contents of the CDs in which the software is exported. I also dispute here that these CDs may contain trash or even may not contain anything. These CDs are sent to non-existent destinations and are ultimately abandoned.
    The metals and palm oil are imported into the country duty free and minimal changes are done before they are injected into India at a comfortably competitive rate because of the tax shelter.
    Small portion of the profit from the export is given to the Bhutanese front and major portion of the profit is smuggled to India as so called ‘cost of the software’ that they have already claimed to have originated from India. The software excuse is just used to smuggle the money outside the country.
    This is the largest single predator that eats up our rupee reserves and has threatened and crippled our economy into its current state. The Royal Government must act now before the situation gets worse and we fall into an irrecoverable rupee debt.

  15. Sonam Penjor, I do not exactly buy this one-sided viewpoint of yours! While I have no comments on the reasonability aspect of the Mckinsey’s fee part, however, I applaud this well intended move of the government in having at least attempted to solving this ‘public service delivery debacle’ as one of their top priorities in the engagement of an outsider as a watch -over agency – in this case of course it happened to be the Mckinsey.

    In your clear state of mind, did it ever occur to you why the government in the first place resorted to this Mission Mckinsey?

    It shows that our top bureaucrats who otherwise were entrusted into ensuring smooth flow of the public service delivery system are themselves in the state of deep imbroglio and as such have become a bunch of ruthlessly hardened Dashos in the civil service caring exclusively only about their self gratification concerns.

    In such a scenario what would you have done as a nation loving critic or for that matter a well meaning opposition leaning columnist’s view would have been if confronted with such a challenge?

    Would you still have banked all your hopes in our present Dasho Directors and Secretaries on whom this ‘spoilt power disease’ got the better part of them resulting into completely blinding their moves in seeing things straight in its true nature. And, gone ahead in the same status-quo fashion as though nothing happened kind of mentality OR thought of some corrective measures?

    The fact that the government in acknowledgement of this cardinal problem which otherwise has been plaguing the whole civil service‘s growth per se can be construed as an achievement in itself.

    If we want to proceed ahead as a progressive nation, the deep-seated setback which would merit addressing immediately should be in the rooting out mission of spoilt Directors and Secretaries – the top bureaucrats.

    Unless, this is done with an iron fist concentration, no amount of system fine tuning exercises would yield a worthwhile result.

    Had these top bureaucrats discharged their duties with utmost sincerity and dedication with exclusively people centric feelings at heart, then, by now, this need of engaging the external agency as a “class monitor kind of affairs” would have not arisen in the first place which resulted the national exchequer in having to pay such a whooping fee of 9 million USD?

    Therefore, the crux of the matter here is not on nitpicking on every good intended activities of the government, but, however, in being a meaningful partner in the nation building exercise by lending the opposition supports while endorsing some critical fault lines in our system so that we have a better nation in the offing by way of a gift to present to our future citizens.

    The OL’s article on the Rupee Crises, I think, is a good article in the right direction. In the similar vein, it would make an interesting reading if he could also write something on the people’s concern as harbored against the conduct of some of our weather hardened top bureaucrats.

    Up till now, I noticed OL maintainng a tight lipped stance on the subject. Hope he breaks this deafening silence and scores a point in the process.

  16. My analysis is that we are collectively responsible, including OL, for rupee shortfall arising mainly from our our greed and living beyond our means. It is easy approach to find scape goat, and blame them for our woes. Deeper analysis must be done to find out the state of our economy and suggest remedial measures rather than pointing fingers.

    Cheers

  17. Kelpazangla says:

    My non-economist views are;

    1) Find out ways to encourage our local farmers to adapt back to our variety tradiitonal agriculture practices and control our dependency on imported edible items. On top of improving accessibility and mechanization, allow rural farmers culling of the wild animals devastating their crops. The barren paddy fields are increasing every year due to humn-wildlife conflict and easy access to imported cereals. Reverse people to Tseri parctices, cultivation of Millet, Barley and Buckwheat.
    2) Stop entertaining influential and high class societies on abroad medical treaments on govt expenses.
    3) Plan properly the housing constructions and control import of raw materials and labor from outside the country.
    4) Increase electricity tariff for export as well as energy intensive industries.
    5) Stop dine&wine business of every minor/petty meeting and official business.
    6) Assess carefully the hydropower master plan and control import of Indian expertriates and labourers. I am quite worried not only about economy the security itself at the rate of hydropower development, road and building constructions and related labor import. Bhutanese building owners and contractors alike are fully dependent on the Indian Labor Contractors (Thrikhadar) and day light robbery is easily visible.

    These few measures will easily cut down Rupee and other Hard Currency deficit casualty.

  18. Foreign reserves for Bhutan in

    2007-2008 = $624.3 million
    2008-2009 = $758 million
    2009- 2010 = $868 million
    2010-2011 = $ 868 -200 = $668 million.

    So we are more or less back to 2007-2008 figure in addition to all the investments made – the roads, the punatsangchu, the mangdechu etc.

  19. If that is the situation that the country is facing and would continue to face in the future, early remedial action needs to be taken collectively.

    If OL were in PM’s position, what could have been done strategically? I think it is crucial that Opposition provides possible potential measures to the government so as to prevent further negative impacts. The matter is well taken care by the OL and is appreciated.

  20. Motor Mouth says:

    even though i am not well versed in finance and economics, spending money to buy money seems dumb and a stupid thing to do.

    what happened to DPT’s promise of a vibrant economy? soon the country will start vibrating under the crisis.

    and McKinsey is a whole lot of hogwash. bhutanese professionals could have done the job much better than them and at a cheaper price too. we tend to exalt the foreign consultants too much. when do we start depending on our own local think tanks?

  21. I see no logic and rationale in hoarding foreign reserves equivalent to 1 years import when on the other hand we borrow ruppee from India at interest rate much higher than what our dollar reserves fetch! Very intriguing issue to ponder on – when you deposit your money at lower interest rate but borrow money from others at much higher interest rate! Something’s not right here. Smells fishy!

  22. Makes you wonder why they gave up Bhutan Lottery so easily. If this was run properly it would be a good source for all those rupees.

  23. “Software Export Industry” is obviously a complete scam. Does anyone actually know of any software engineer in Bhutan writing commercial software here for sales overseas?

  24. My Layman’s opinion

    Bhutan has a dependent economy I guess. If Bhutan is one with India in terms of economy, why are we on the first place subjected to expenditure regulations which directly affects our economic-growth? After all if Bhutan makes growth, the Indian economy will benefit too. Our purchase from India is already benefiting the government of India and the Indian traders from their part of the taxes, overhead and profit?

    The power tariff rate for the export of power to India is something not understood? It is the buyer in this case who benefits genuinely and substantially than the producer? I do not know of any commodity where the agents can make 200% profit compared to the cost of production?

    Bhutan is paying an interest @ 10% on the 70% loan for the hydro Power Projects; the grant already shrinks and remains just a little over 20% due to the impact of this interest in the very year itself, what about years to come till complete repayment?

    Bhutanese may not have any authority over the cost-expenses of the hydro power projects under construction. If we understand the parameter pyramid after commissioning of the Projects, including social, environmental and other risk impacts assessment, Are we really reasonable by selling the only major export at perhaps less than 50% of the price for which it is expected to be sold?

    Bhutan export apples to Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi just make market products, export it to third country and make profit. Is this not possible in our country to keep our produces, process it to marketable goods and make it available inside and outside? Ours is a organic country and we don’t have to advertise this to brand our consumable produce? Today we reach all the potatoes to P/ling for auction, tomorrow the same comes back from the cold storage of the bordering Indian town where their refrigerator runs consuming Bhutanese power.

    A developing country like ours should have fundamental technical revolutions rather than bureaucratic inspirations. We are bad in math, we don’t even produce nails that are consumed in thousands of kilos everyday, are we conscious of our income vs expenditures? A gentleman from Afghanistan once asked me what and where we have our Industries in Bhutan? as he was surprised to see luxury cars along the Thimphu-Paro highway during his entrance which is a sign of prosperity and very high per capita income of the people.

    Our development is only basic, we cannot even suspend it, Thimphu does not even have a district hospital, it is not my remedy to think of going hungry if I my income is not enough to buy the regular food, I have to work my way to earn balance the requirement.

  25. I pray that our government understands the grave implication of wrong economic policies adopted today could compromise our own sovereignty tomorrow. Doing good to our people with other’s money is no good, there isn’t any free lunch, so is in country to country relation. The aid that we happily receive today, will not be aiding us but it will hurt us badly someday, really bad!! Any loans from IMF, World Bank are definitely bundled with condition of “free market capitalism” and have to be cautious before getting into their clutches. We have more to lose than to gain by opening up our markets to the world. FDI, MNC venturing into Bhutan is a salient pestilence that could obliterate certain section of Bhutanese society in future. A good example of “free market capitalism” carnage is vividly visible in Latin American countries today, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile etc. Lets us not follow them, Let us learn from them and avoid it at any cost.

  26. Dear Opposition Leader,

    The issue you raised is pertinent. Is your duty just to raise the issues without suggesting anything? Definitely you are able to create a lot of questions for govt in the minds of all readers. I think as a responsible OL – you must as well suggest the government some solutions or take pain to study and bring the statistics to the people so that they can help you suggest – it will only add to your portfolio.

    It is important to find out the causes and then solutions – The causes that is reflected by many are very meagre – while a number of good solutions are suggested in terms of imports, constructions, luxury items, education/ services and others.

    Let’s ask these questions: How do we earn Indian Currency? What makes it in short supply? Is our Ngultrum convertible? What is the basis for our economy to produce more money in supply? When Bhutanese buy materials with Nu in Indian market – do they roll the same currency in their market or convert it to their currency at our banks? What is the volume of economy spread over the last five years? Where do these IC reserves and earning get spent?

    Sources of IC:
    – Indian grants
    – loans
    – FDI (if any?)
    – Exports
    – tourism
    – services (bhutanese working in India)
    – Mega projects

    Expenditure of IC:
    – Imports (Trade balance is a big negative one)- this include construction materials, hydro and plant equipment, vehicles, office materials and equipment, ration, fuel for vehicles and homes, groceries, garments/cloth, and services (expertise, contractors in mega projects, and work force, etc.)
    – Education of children in India
    – Religious, business, official travels in India
    – etc. (many other means of spending IC)

    Our problem:
    – our money in circulation is not always in same volume; we produce more money to match the economic growth
    – we can not exchange our ngultrum with any currency
    – our trade balance is highly negative (we use for third country imports – spending a lot of hard earned dollars, e.g., for Bangkok holiday and shopping).

    Solutions:
    – reduce imports or match with exports (this means less construction and mega projects, no school in India for children, no Indian experts and contractors in Bhutan, no Indian labourers, eat less and dress less, no travel to India, no fuel in the country, no car in the country (probably the major losing end to exchequer and when govt wanted to increase the tax to avoid people to madly buy cars, the govt was sued – less cars means less fuel and more IC saving)
    – Increase exports – produce organic food for a huge market in India
    – encourage Indian tourists
    – Slow down the economic growth (it means less roads, less access to drinking water, less connectivity to telecom and electricity, less health and education facilities, etc.)
    – do not produce ngultrum but give that equivalent to produce IC or trade in stock
    – enhance exports of all kinds of goods and services to India

    I hope these would help our readers to understand a bit more – sure enough the economy has jumped two time more than it was in the last five ten year plan – so is the need of IC.

    Long term initiatives of the govt:
    – With hydro mega projects govt will be self reliant
    – ICT development will bring more export of service firms
    – education city with bring close to minimum of 10% of over 500 billion IC spent out of India for education of their children
    – expand organic products, tourism,MICE, wellness centre, (mainly service sector)

    I think we have a bright chance of improving the economy – don’t worry about dollars depletion – it will increase again – but how do we do with IC? Are we willing to reduce the economic growth?

  27. So the government needs more money…

    Perhaps the government should set the fuel price here in Bhutan to the real international price for petrol and diesel. Though this would certainly have some impact on inflation, it would straight away increase government revenues, discourage unnecessary usage and import of cars, encourage use of smaller more fuel efficient vehicles (and walking, cycling and use of public transport), and decrease the amount spent on importing fuel. It would also cut down the country’s carbon footprint and pollution thus helping to fulfil the government’s stated green agenda.

    Secondly, just like all prohibition laws, the Tobacco Act is not working (even NC members apparently need a smoking room) and is causing negative impacts – but we have found smokers are willing to pay Nu. 100/- or more for a pack of 10 cigarettes. So allow the import and sale of cigarettes but put a “sin” tax on tobacco so cigarettes sell at this rate of Nu 100/- with the money going to the exchequer instead of the smugglers. Then at least the government would be making the money not the smugglers. (Maybe some of the money could even be used to pay for that NC smoking room.)

    Thirdly, as mentioned earlier, restart Bhutan Lottery under proper and transparent supervision. This would be a huge source of the Indian Currency we seem to need.

    Some of the suggestions made by others here may help over the longer term – but these three suggestions could be implemented
    very quickly and increase the Government’s revenue and stock of Indian currency almost immediately.

Leave a Reply