In 2020 Bhutan saw the highest ever remittance flow of Nu 8.269 billion (bn). This was higher than the combined remittance of Nu 2.901 bn in 2019 and 3.032 bn in 2020.
It was theorized by some that the 2020 remittance may be a one off due to COVID and there were even expectations that this may fall in 2021.
However, this is not the case so far in 2021 with data showing Nu 5.139 bn in remittances until August 2021.
This is more than the Nu 5.107 bn in remittances during the same time period until August 2020.
This means that 2021 may be headed to be another year where the remittances will either exceed the 2020 record remittances or closely match it.
Like in 2020, the majority of the remittances are from Australia so far. It is USD 27 million (mn) from mainly the USA while it is AUD 65 mn from Australia.
Similar to 2020, this huge remittance rush seems to be triggered by the pandemic with Bhutanese abroad sending home large amounts of cash.
A RMA official said apart from the need to support family members, it could be due to the fact that the same money in USA or Australia would earn very less in the banks there due to minimal interest rates and get better deposit rates here.
The money coming in is either sitting in fixed deposits and savings accounts in banks or it is being invested heavily into land.
According to property dealers the main buyers of property in Thimphu and Paro and even other parts -are the relatives of those are working in Australia and to an extent the USA.
This record inflow of remittance has also coincided with record rise in land prices, increasing deposits in banks and a major rally in the local stock market over more than a year.
The RMA official said that the RMA and certain Financial Institutions have also made it easier to send money to Bhutan.
The official said that remittances are welcome for Bhutan as it helps offset the loss of foreign currency earning due to tourism being closed.