Govt says main achievement of 2015 is a revived economy

Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the main achievement of the government so far is reviving and strengthening the economy.

He said, “If we reflect, 2015 has been a very productive year for the economic sector looking at all the indicator of the economy.”

“We are not saying that the economy is doing extremely well but significant improvements have taken place,” he added.

The minister pointed out that the government had taken over an economy on the brink of crisis and today the economy was treading on a good path. He said the 2.05 % growth rate of 2013 was today 5.7 %.

The rupee reserve, the minister said, was minus INR 5 bn and it had to be paid back when the new government took over but today it stood at INR 17 bn.

The minister said that inflation was down from the then 10 to 11 % to now 3.4 % though the government would not take credit for it as it was down to international oil prices.

He said unemployment was slightly down though it may not have fallen as much as the government would like it to fall.

Lyonpo pointed out that the Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP) of the government which is under implementation for the last two years had brought about an impact by first pumping Nu 2 bn into the banks allowing the private sector to get access to credit.

The BoIC project according to the minister had enabled the start of 2,000 projects across rural Bhutan creating employment and impact. He gave a personal example of Zhemgang from where he recently came back stating that the projects there were making a major impact and showing results within the community.

The minister said that during the crisis around 3,000 or so contractors were facing major problems but now they had at least one work in hand if not more.

He said Nu 92 bn worth of 11th plan capital activities were going on across the country in the form of construction of various social infrastructures.

The minister highlighted that when the government inherited the hydropower projects Punatsangchu I was on the crisis mode as the right bank had slipped and there were serious fund release issues with the Government of India over P I, P II and Mangdechu.

He said that the government repaired the slip, rationalized dam construction, got the funds and so the three mega projects are on track. He said the government also started the Tangsibji project and the discussions on the Chamkarchu project is at the final stages.

“We campaigned to strengthen the economy and in 2015 the economy has a right sunny outcome compared to the bleak situation of 2011 and 2012. We need to work harder in 2016 and the economy will do well” said the minister.

The Finance Minister pointed out that in the past there were various import bans from vehicles to other items which had been removed.

He said the government was conscious of its rupee and convertible currency reserves and was always pursuing policies that while allowing economic growth and imports would also not threaten the reserves.

Apart from imports bans the country also suffered from a credit crunch with no access to credit from 2012 to 2013.

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