Sherab Lhamo

National Assembly members said that the method to calculate inflation needs to be revisited to ensure that it reflects the economic reality of the country.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that Bhutan will customise its inflation calculation to the requirement of local economic context, while still adhering to international standards during calculation.

During the discussion at the National Assembly on October 2, the minister said that the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) has been directed to evolve the calculation of inflation to reflect the current economic situation in Bhutan, ensuring that the inflation rate is accurately reflected.

Bartsham Shonghu MP, Passang Dorji said the biggest concern for Bhutanese citizens has been food inflation as the country’s production rate is not accurately shown. In the country vegetable self-sufficiency is only 82 percent. And cereal crops come to around 37 percent.

“I am not sure if it really is 37 percent because the government and NSB officials collecting statistics do not accurately give how much vegetables and cereal crops are being produced,” said Passang Dorji.

He added that the data are from a few local government officials and the data they provide do not show accurate figures. Hence, hindering the pricing of local products. So, in future to calculate inflation, an accurate number of vegetables and cereal crops produced is necessary.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said that the statistics of any report should be made accurate. Recently, agriculture statistics were worrisome and resulted in the ministry receiving complaints from the public.

“There is also the risk of affecting the national food security, which could lead to an increase in import and higher inflation,” said the minister.

Bongo Chapchha MP Tshewang Lhamo said, the Asian Development Bank calculated our country’s inflation and Gross Domestic Product, which is different from the NSB report. The NSB report showed that 2022 inflation was 5.6 percent, and their calculation showed a drop in inflation to 4.1 percent.

“The question is which report should we trust,” said the MP.