Asks the Govt. to address issues with urgency 

Economy: The country could be headed for an economic crisis if the government doesn’t address the issue of falling reserves, the widening current account deficit, and rising debt with “the highest level of seriousness and urgency”, the opposition party has warned.

Speaking at the opposition party’s meet-the-press programme in Thimphu yesterday, Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said the national debt has increased by Nu 39 billion (B) or 38.61 percent in the last three years.

Presenting figures, he said the national debt has increased from Nu 101B on June 30, 2013 to Nu 140B as of June 30, 2016. A recent UK based “Jubilee Debt Campaign” agency has categorised Bhutan as a country with “high risk of government debt crisis”.

He said the reserves have fallen by USD 133 million (M) or 14.50 percent during the last three years. The reserves, he said, fell from USD 917M on June 30, 2013 to USD 784M in February 2016.

The government has so far been maintaining an adequate level of Indian Rupees in reserve through the sale of USD.

“However, recently both the USD and Rupee reserves have started falling. “This is a matter of serious concern, especially in light of the dwindling sources of hard currency earnings,” Dorji Wangdi said.

He also said the current account deficit has been widening at a much faster rate than in the past. The deficit has increased by around Nu 6B in the last two years from Nu 20B on June 30, 2013 to an estimated Nu 26B on June 30, 2015.

“At the present pace of increase in debt and falling reserves, coupled with the widening current account deficit, it is mostly likely that the country will fall into financial emergency or economic crisis in the near medium term,” he said.

The MP called upon the government to take the issue with “the highest seriousness and urgency and do everything possible to avert the further deepening of economic distress, which is also amply demonstrated by a highly alarming unemployment situation”.

Leader of Opposition (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said the opposition party will always put the interest of the King, country and people above all, and strive towards strengthening the peace, unity and security of the country.

“We will not oppose for the sake of opposing and will not unduly interfere or obstruct the government in conducting its business,” he said.

The opposition, he said, will offer alternative views and give constructive criticism when it feels that government policies, programmes and actions appear to contravene existing laws and rules and compromise the interest of the nation and the people.

(Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said he was surprised that the print media had not scrutinised Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s State of the Nation report. “There is a glaring omission of the state of the media, youth, private sector and Civil Society Organisations,” he said.

He added that they haven’t received any annual report of the ministries that used to be the basis for preparing the State of the Nation report.

MB Subba