Govt takes stock on completing two years

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the government would not rate itself on its performance in the last two years and would rather leave it to the people, but in terms of effort it would give itself 10 out of 10.

“We have used the successes of the past governments but we have also learned from the mistakes of the previous government and have tried to avoid them and we have also worked very hard,” said the PM.

The PM said the government was fortunate to have a Monarch who has always been ready to offer counsel, the civil service which has worked very hard and the trust and confidence of the people.

He said in the two years the government set the stage for the 11th plan by successfully raising resources and grants for it far more than anticipated and starting to successfully implement the 11th plan.

In terms of the economy he said the government corrected the fundamentals of the economy referring to easing the rupee crisis and credit crunch and lifting import bans.

The Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said that there is a difference in how the economy was inherited and what it is today.

He said in terms of public finance the current government had to start the 11th five year plan with more the Nu 5.8 bn of spillover work from the 10th plan compared to 400 mn spillover at the start of the 10th plan.

Lyonpo pointed out that the outlay of the 11th plan is 46 percent more than the 10th plan and even though it took off late by six months in October 2014 due to the elections the mid-term review was still being carried out much earlier than the normal 2.6 years. He said the early review was asked for by the PM to see the position of the government.

The PM said that people expected not only quantity but also quality in the mid-term reviews and he said his government would be responsible for that. He said he was reviewing the government performance three times a year which included the mid-term performance compact review and the annual report.

He said that the government would give a comprehensive review and report on completing two years and six months which is half its term.

In response to another question the PM and FM also gave a detailed picture on the state of the economy saying it was in a much better condition than two years ago when they came into office.

The PM said that Bhutan today had a convertible currency reserve of USD 824 bn and a rupee reserve of Nu 17 bn.

Pointing to the Current Account Deficit the FM said currently it was Nu 7 bn but he said in 2008-09 it was Nu 3.6 bn jumping to 14.8 bn in 2009-10 and then 23.6 bn in 2010-11.

CAD is when the value of goods and services imported by a country exceeds what it exports.

The FM said that the government could control the deficit by imposing fiscal measures like taxes even after which around 800 cars entered the country and rationalizing the expenditure of the government by not spending in areas not considered to be urgent.

He said the government went slow in the construction of government offices and the BoIC has helped in import substitution and export promotion.

The PM said that the Current Account Balance which is the trade balance and balance of services had improved. He said small and cottage industries across the country were doing well with BoIC, tourism was doing well, agricultural developments was focused on reducing food imports and good investments were being made in hydropower.

He said the trade balance was skewed mainly on account of hydropower imports which were anyhow being financed by rupee grants and loans.

Lyonchhen said that the Balance of Payment which was around Nu 9 bn negative in 2013 was now positive by Nu 9.2 bn by today.

The PM, however, said more had to be done as Bhutan was still importing everything and not producing and exporting enough.

In terms of debt the PM said that there should no concern over hydropower debt as these were good and productive investments but the government had taken care to ensure that non-hydro power loans have not increased.

The PM said that as per early estimates from NSB the Gross Domestic Product of Bhutan had increased to Nu 119 bn which is a good jump.

Lyonchhen said that in the next three years the focus will be mainly guided in fulfilling the promises as best as the government can and ensuring a successful implementation of the 11th plan.

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