MB Subba

The impact of the pandemic was more severe in the country than on most world economies because of the landlocked economy, according to Finance Minister Namgay Tshering.

“The main sources of revenue for the government were the hydropower and tourism sectors. We faced a lot of problems in terms of revenue after the Covid-19,” he said.

The finance minister, who was on Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s (BBS) live discussion yesterday, said that he was hoping the pandemic would become endemic in the near future and that the economy would improve. “The only solution to curb the Covid-19 situation for now is to impose lockdowns.”

He said that the booster dose would help avoid people get ill. “As a finance minister of the country, I have a big concern about the economy.”

Lyonpo Namgay Tshering said that he had submitted his recommendations and ideas to the prime minister on how to improve the economy.

He said that the livelihoods were in the economy. “We never thought that the pandemic would happen when we finalised the 12th Plan.”

The government, he said, was working on how the private sector could be leveraged with better economic and monetary policies. “The possibilities of reducing interest rates should be looked into.”

This comes at a time when one of the issues in the country is the high interest rates for borrowers, according to investors and the government.

Lyonpo Namgay Tshering said that the government was prepared to tackle the next variant of the Covid-19 given the evolving nature of the virus.

He said that economic contingency plans have been worked out to deal with any situation the country could face due to the pandemic. “The government had rolled out economic programmes including the Build Bhutan Project.”

He said that about Nu 800 million (M) had been rolled out under the credit guarantee scheme in the 20 dzongkhags to improve the economy. “It consisted of about 2,000 projects.”

The finance minister said that imprisoning all the loan defaulters would not solve the non-performing loan issue.

He said that businesses could function within the protocol despite the endemic. “The manufacturing sector would be allowed to operate within the protocol.”

He said it would have been difficult for many people to survive in the pandemic had it not been for the gracious kidu support. “The government would work towards a prosperous private sector.”

The finance minister said that a worst-case scenario had been worked out to resolve the non-performing loans (NPL). He said that some of the shops and industries were allowed to operate to help the private sector.

“One of the issues we have is in the construction sector. We are trying to resolve the issue.” He said that the private sector would be one of the priorities of the governments.

He said that the government would ensure economic prosperity for the people and the country.