MB Subba 

The Bhutanese economy bounced back strongly in 2019, the National Accounts Statistics 2020 released yesterday by the national statistics bureau of Bhutan (NSB) shows.

The economy recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5.46 percent last year as against the 3.03 percent growth in the previous year. This is an expansion of the economy by 2.41 percent in 2019.

NSB defines GDP as the total value of all goods and services produced within the economic boundary of the country, which are available for final uses such as consumption, investment and exports. 

The NSB releases the annual statistics on a calendar year basis and figures are revised when final and updated information become available.

The main sectors that helped the economy rebound were education and health; mining and quarrying; and transport and communication, which grew by 51.09 percent, 33.1 percent, 13.2 percent respectively. 

Another major contributor, which was electricity, grew by 12.12 percent. 

The NSB adds that the government final consumption expenditure and private final consumption expenditure were the main contributors in 2019, with the growth of 10.80 percent and 6.13 percent respectively. 

An expansion of GDP results in creation of jobs, increase in people’s income levels and consumption capacity. It also means higher profits for companies, including government corporations, which in turn means higher stock prices for some of them.

However, the government’s projection for 2020 after the country went into its first ever lockdown in August shows a GDP growth to negative 2.1.

The only Covid-19-proof economic bedrock was the hydropower sector, from which revenue increased by about 14 percent in the first half of 2020. 

The growth in the hydropower sector to a certain extent is expected to offset the losses in other sectors.

According to the statistics, the Gross National Savings recorded a growth of 2.34 percent in 2019 from the previous year, which it said was a sluggish growth. 

The economy noted a Gross National Savings of Nu 36.467 billion (B) in 2019 as against Nu 35B in 2018. This is an increase of Nu 1.432B. 

“Though there was an increase in national savings in 2019, like in the past years the gross national saving could not meet the investment requirements of the economy,” the report states. 

The nominal investment in 2019 was estimated at Nu 67.636B as against the gross national saving of Nu 36.467B.