Staff Reporter  

In a bid to address the nation’s current foreign reserve situation, the Cabinet has decided to extend the moratorium on import of vehicles for six more months, Finance Minister Lekey Dorji told the nation on television.

Initially implemented in August 2022, this extension marks the third time it has been extended, effectively pushing its expiration date to August of this year.

The primary objective behind the extension, Lyonpo Lekey Dorji said, is to safeguard the nation’s foreign exchange reserves. He emphasised the delicate balance between the importance of vehicle imports and the imperative to address the dwindling foreign reserves.

According to the Royal Monetary Authority’s latest monthly statistical bulletin, Bhutan’s foreign exchange reserves stood at USD 533 million as of November last year.

“Imports are crucial. However, in light of our current foreign reserve situation, we must exercise prudence. Our reserves are currently somewhat depleted. This extension is vital to prevent further depletion of our reserves. Over the coming months, we will work hard to bolster our reserves through tourism, with the goal of lifting the moratorium within the stipulated timeframe,” the Finance Minister said. 

Under the extended moratorium, certain categories of vehicles remain exempt, mirroring the previous criteria. Utility vehicles valued at less than Nu 1.5 million and pickup trucks, will continue to be unaffected. Additionally, heavy machinery utilised in construction and agriculture activities will not fall under the moratorium’s restrictions. 

Moreover, taxis and buses approved by the Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority, along with tourism-related vehicles endorsed by the Department of Tourism, will enjoy the exemption.