Thukten Zangpo 

Bhutan could save Nu 5.3 billion (B) in a year from the moratorium on the import of vehicles.

Bhutan imported 7,882 vehicles worth Nu 5.3B in 2021. The import includes buses, passenger cars, transport vehicles, special purpose vehicles, and motorcycles.

In the first six months, the vehicle import figure was 3,248. In monetary terms, it was worth Nu 2.84B.

Had Bhutan put a moratorium on the import of vehicles from January this year, the country’s trade deficit as of June this year could have been narrowed by Nu 2.84B to Nu 18.39B.

Bhutan has to pay in Indian Rupee for vehicle import from India and in USD for the import of vehicles from other countries.

The finance ministry last week notified that the government would stop the import of vehicles from India and other countries to save the dwindling foreign currency reserve.

However, the import of utility vehicles costing less than Nu 1.5 million (M) or equivalent to USD 20,000, heavy earth moving machines, agriculture machinery, vehicles in the tourism sector and taxis (fossil fuel and electric) that are due for replacement are exempted from the moratorium.

In 2021, Bhutan imported 57 buses, 49 buses worth Nu 102.54M from India and 8 buses worth Nu 24.52M from other countries.

Bhutan also imported 4,032 passenger vehicles worth Nu 2.6B in 2021. Of the total, 3,849 vehicles, amounting to Nu 2.15B was imported from India and 183, amounting to Nu 449.33M, was imported from other countries.

Passenger vehicles of a cylinder capacity exceeding 1,000cc but not exceeding 1,500cc were among the most imported vehicles—2,136 vehicles worth Nu 1.32B in 2021.

Similarly, 2,901 transport vehicles valued at Nu 2.27B were imported from India last year.

And Nu 172.12M worth of special purpose vehicle such as crane lorries, fire-fighting vehicles and concrete mixers were imported in the same year.

Bhutan imported 823 motorcycles from India worth Nu 89.2M and 10 motorcycles worth Nu 5.19M from other countries in 2021.

Fuel is still the top imported commodity in the country. Bhutan imported fuel worth Nu 8.35B in 2021.

Bhutan also imported Nu 2.18B worth of rice in 2021. Telephones, cellular networks, or other wireless networks worth Nu 2.4B were imported in the same year.

Last year, the country imported Nu 90.23B worth of goods from India and other countries. Imports from India accounted for Nu 71.24B. Imports from other countries accounted for Nu 18.99B.

Bhutan exported Nu 57.99B worth of goods including electricity to India and other countries. Export to India was recorded at Nu 50.84B and Nu 7.15B to other countries.