FM presents budget for 2012-13

 Coinciding with the final year of the current elected government, the national budget for financial year (FY) 2012-13 which is also the final budget of the 10th five year plan was presented by finance minister Wangdi Norbu to the National Assembly (NA) yesterday. The total projected budget is estimated to Nu 34.5bn down from the previous year’s Nu 37.9bn. However government’s current expenditure shot up to Nu 18.3bn, an increase by Nu 1bn from the previous financial year. The remaining Nu 16.3bn will meet capital expenditures. Capital expenditure includes investments that create future benefits like buying fixed assets such as computers, building hospitals and roads etc. Current expenditure covers government spending on items that are consumed and only last a limited period of time such as wages and salaries, rent, interest payments. Salaries and wages are estimated to account for about 43% of total current expenditure and 37% of the domestic revenue. The interest payments for the year are estimated at about Nu 2bn out of which 95% is on account of interest payment for external loans. Interest payments for government of India (GoI) hydropower loans for Tala hydropower project and Kurichu hydropower project alone amounts to Nu1.5bn. Interest payment for domestic loan is about Nu 101mn on account of government equity for the purchase of aircraft. The remaining current expenditure of more than Nu 1bn has been budgeted to cover subsidy requirements of the Education city, Bhutan broadcasting Service Corporation, Thromdes, Druk Air Corporation, Rural House Insurance Scheme, Royal University of Bhutan and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Lending to corporations was estimated at Nu 1.10bn a majority of which will be lent for rural electrification and rural credit. The highest amount of Nu 10.4bn was allocated for the ministry of finance (MoF) and the least for ministry of labor and human resources at Nu 436mn. The sector-wise expenditure estimates Nu 13.4bn for economic and public services which constitute 34% of the total budget. It includes sectors like agriculture, mining, manufacturing, roads, housing, communications and energy. 25% or Nu 9.3bn was allocated for social services which include health and education. Nu 5.6bn was allocated for national debt services followed by Nu 5.2bn for general public services. Nu 1.3bn was allocated for cultural studies and Nu 3.3bn for law and order services. This was in keeping with the government’s commitment toward socio-economic development and poverty alleviation. The total revenue including grants was projected at Nu 31.8bn. Of the total domestic revenue of Nu 21.1bn, about 73% is expected to be financed by tax revenue sources mainly business income tax (BIT) and personal income tax (PIT). The total gross domestic product (GDP) projected for FY 2012-13 is about Nu 102.3bn. 1.56% of GDP is the fiscal deficit estimated for the FY 2012-13. However, the fiscal deficit is expected to drop in the two outer fiscal years with 3.21% of GDP in FY 2013-14 and 0.33% in FY 2014-2015. In terms of balance of payments with India, the trade deficit is projected at 13.3% of GDP in FY 2012-13 because of expansion in merchandise imports on account of the construction of hydropower projects. The overall balance of payment is also projected to be in deficit but expected to be back to surplus in the subsequent years. As indicated by the projections of royal monetary authority (RMA), the gross international reserves will be USD 806.63mn which is expected to be adequate for 21.5 months of essential imports. The budget was prepared mainly with the objective to complete the 10th FYP ongoing activities and in line with the government’s current fiscal guidelines. Budget provisions for furniture and computers were allocated only for schools under government funding and no budget for purchase of vehicles, staff quarter construction, fencing, wall and gates. While hospitality and entertainment budget has been reduced by 20%, budget for in-country travel has been reduced by 10% from FY 2011-12. Budget for government advertising was also reduced compared to the previous year. While budget will be provided only for mandatory participation in regional or international meetings, no provisions have been made for annual conferences.

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