Thukten Zangpo 

Stocks of essential items in the country are estimated to last for 52 days based on the projection of the average consumption pattern as of January 18, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).

Bhutan has stocked 15, 051 metric tonnes (MT) of essential items, maintained in 20 dzongkhags across the country.

The Food Corporation of Bhutan has stocked 7, 392MT of essential items; 4, 645MT by 236 major retailers, and 3, 015MT by wholesalers.

Bhutan has rice stocks of 6, 133.83MT to last for 34 days; 877.04MT of edible oil for 49 days; and 278.75MT of pulses for 39 days. Other essential items such as salt, butter, milk, cheese, tea, coffee, noodles, biscuits, and detergents are also stocked up.

Similarly, 29, 014 subsidised liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders have been stocked which would be adequate for 19 days, considering an average daily consumption of 1,498 cylinders; 21, 433 non-subsidised LPG cylinders would be adequate for 63 days.

Bhutan has a petrol stock of 1, 596.44 kilolitre (KL) that is expected to last for 12 days and diesel stocks of 2,214.82KL to last for five days. The average estimated daily consumption of petrol and diesel are 137KL and 410KL respectively.

A ministry official said that the stock adequacy is expected to remain consistent with continuous supplies being facilitated by the ministry and the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF).

The SC19TF notified on January 17 that it would facilitate and allow the import of all goods, including fuel as well as export of finished industrial goods through the mini-dry port in Phuentsholing.

An official said that the ministry was facilitating imports and exports in compliance with the existing SoPs and protocols in place.

He said that the ministry would coordinate with the task forces in the dzongkhags and regions to ensure the smooth flow of essential items in the country.

“The ministry is monitoring the stock position, and at the same time efforts are being made to ensure that supplies from outside are not disrupted to maintain adequate stocks,” the official added.

He said that the ministry contacted wholesalers and large retailers across the country fully engaged in the import and distribution of essential items during the last nationwide lockdown to plan for such contingencies to ensure that the disruption is minimised.

“Prices of essential items are not expected to increase,” he said, adding that the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is monitoring the market and necessary interventions will be made if there are cases of unjustified price increases.