The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) has collected USD one million in 369 days after it had set up a foreign exchange counter in Paro International Airport.

This is in addition to about USD 0.9M the Bank of Bhutan (BoB) has collected at its foreign exchange counter in about seven months. Together, the two forex counters at the airport earned close to USD 2M.

RMA governor, Dasho Penjore said this initiative would not only facilitate the visitors exchange USD right at the airport but also help the country build its foreign currency reserve.

Even in absence of RMA counters, he said private vendors and businesses were involved in facilitating the foreign currency exchange. “It is the same thing because those who benefitted are Bhutanese and the currency is used within the country,” he said.  However, he said it doesn’t get accumulated in the international reserve of the country.

“It opens up the scope and opportunity of collecting foreign currency from the visitors at the gateway through an official channel,” he said adding every dollar visitors exchanges will add to the reserve.

Dasho Penjore said the level of international reserve is reflective of country’s wellbeing, its credit worthiness and credibility of the country.

While it is the Constitutional requirement and RMA’s mandate to maintain a reserve enough to finance 12 months of imports, the country has reserve that is sufficient to meet 24 months of import.

This, the governor said is a noteworthy feature of the economy compared with the reserves neighbouring countries maintain.

The RMA has plans to establish more such counters.

Rupee counter at the immigration office in Phuentsholing collects about Rs 500,000 on a daily basis. Within five months, the rupee counter has added more than Rs 13M to the rupee reserve. This amount the governor said would easily meet the rupee needs of the pilgrims visiting India.

“It is about tapping the right opportunity with the help of other stakeholders,” Dasho Penjore said adding that the RMA has partnered with immigration and customs authorities at the airport in doing so.

To observe the USD 1M mark, the RMA held a modest ceremony involving airport authorities and other dzongkhag official in Paro on November 5.

Tshering Dorji | Paro