Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering expressed concerns about the quality of exports and imports.
He said that while there has been an increase in export and import within six months after lifting movement restrictions, he is concerned about the quality of imports as it is mostly food items.
According to the Prime Minister, there were no import goods related to enhancing skills for youths, capacity building, and improving the economy.
He mentioned that the highest import was petroleum products followed by food items such as rice, cereals, meats, and packaged foods. “The country spent around Nu 2B for meat imports.”
Lyonchhen said that export also increased compared to 2019, but the quality of export is concerning too. “The highest export is hydropower, earning about Nu 24B in 2021 followed by mining without any value addition.”
He provided the details while responding to Bartsham-Shongphu Member of Parliament’s (MP) question on the government’s strategies to revive and improve the country’s economy.
MP Passang Dorji (PhD) asked the government’s plans and strategies to reduce the national debt, enhance private sectors, address youth unemployment and promote export-driven economy during the question-answer session at the seventh National Assembly yesterday.
Passang Dorji said that due to the pandemic, the GDP was reduced by about 10 percent, to which the PM clarified that the negative 10 percent GDP growth rate was that of 2020 and the growth rate of 2021 will be revealed around July this year.
He said that as per the regular quarterly analysis from the finance ministry, the growth rate has reached 3.5 percent.
As the pandemic hit the country in 2020, it imported goods worth 66B and exports was reduced to Nu 20B excluding electricity, the lowest of all time. In 2021, the exports increased to Nu 33B and imports increased to Nu 90B.
MP Passang Dorji said that if the growth rate averages 5 percent until 2030, the debt to GDP ratio will increase by about 200 percent.
He added that although 50 percent of the economically productive population is engaged in the agriculture sector, the contribution to GDP is only 15 percent. “This is a concern and a potential opportunity to tap on.”
He said that one of the significant challenges facing the country is youth unemployment. “If it remains unsolved, many youths will migrate to foreign countries. “Today, 22 percent of the youths are unemployed.”
Meanwhile, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that to build an effective foundation for employment, there had been significant investment in the Gyalsung projects.
He said that the construction of the five training institutes would exceed international standards. “Moreover, the desuups skilling programmes will become an exemplary foundation project as they would start their own business soon.”