Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bhutan’s premier draws clear strategy to protect economy

Bhutan’s premier draws clear strategy to protect economy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering says he is well aware of the economic situation and that strategies is being worked on to revive the economy. AFP

Bhutan’s premier draws clear strategy to protect economy

If surgeon Dr Lotay Tshering, Bhutan’s prime minister, had successfully controlled the tumour created by the new coronavirus so far, the attention now is on handling the impact Covid-19 left on the economy.

Allaying fears that the economy is in a downward spiral and that the government is concerned only with the health, Tshering said that he was well aware of the economic situation and that strategies were being worked on to revive the economy.

Calling it a layman’s view, Tshering said that while expert groups, including a volunteer group, work on an economic way forward, he has asked his economic doctors to work with precision in chalking out a unique strategy and feel the pulse of the nation, after the Covid-19 cloud clears.

The government will spend and inject money to revive the economy. “There is no doubt. The government will absolutely spend. The experts are working on how and where to spend,” said Tshering.

Saying he is not aware of what his economic plan is called, Tshering said that the spending should generate returns. The advice to the committees was to design an economic package where the government will invest, but people work for the money and make some impact.

“If they have to bring down a mountain, beat iron or break stones, they will have to do. We will invest,” said Tshering.

While details of the fiscal or financial measures will be shared soon, Tshering said that he had cautioned on rash spending. “The Covid-19 cloud is getting denser, when it clears, the country should have benefited from government spending.”

The benefits are not as complicated as finding a name for the strategy. The prime minister is looking into activities that would create jobs or engage people affected by the current problem, activities that would create more economic opportunities.

Citing the example of the Avain flu, Tshering said that Bhutan became egg sufficient when the import of egg was banned. “We are importing vegetables, people should go back to the villages and work. We will teach them to work, give money. When the cloud clears we could be vegetable self-sufficient, our fallow land could be reduced to 10 percent,” he said. “But if they don’t work and demand hand outs, they should keep tightening their belts.”

One of the hardest hit, after the service sector is the construction sector from restrictions imposed on the movement of people.

The prime minister said that the government is ready to inject Nu 5 billion ($69.4 million) in the construction sector if infusing money could solve the problem. “The problem today is with workers. Will the stimulus package help?” “If Bhutanese are wiling to carry cement and sand, we will be happy to pay them higher,” he said.

The idea is to replace expatriate workers in the long run. “If Bhutanese are willing to work in the sector, can feed their family and send children to better schools, we will spend.”

Those in the private sector say the slowdown is an old problem that started before the new coronavirus. The big concern is the lack of work and the loan repayment. Some have downsized while others are tightening their belts to get through the “crisis”.

“It is terrible,” said a trader when asked about business. “The coronavirus added to the problem and we are sinking,” he said. “There is no money circulating in the economy and the private sector is affected the worst.”



  • Wing Bank opens new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004

    Wing Bank celebrates first anniversary as commercial bank with launch of brand-new branch. One year since officially launching with a commercial banking licence, Wing Bank on March 14 launched a new branch in front of Orkide The Royal along Street 2004. The launch was presided over by

  • Girl from Stung Meanchey dump now college grad living in Australia

    After finishing her foundational studies at Trinity College and earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne in 2022, Ron Sophy, a girl who once lived at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump and scavenged for things to sell, is now working at a private

  • Ministry using ChatGPT AI to ‘ease workload’; Khmer version planned

    The Digital Government Committee is planning to make a Khmer language version of popular artificial intelligence (AI) technology ChatGPT available to the public in the near future, following extensive testing. On March 9, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications revealed that it has been using the

  • Wat Phnom hornbills attract tourists, locals

    Thanks to the arrival of a friendly flock of great hornbills, Hour Rithy, a former aviculturist – or raiser of birds – in Kratie province turned Phnom Penh tuk tuk driver, has seen a partial return to his former profession. He has become something of a guide

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to