Trade deficit at Nu 29.7B in 2017
April 10, 2018
Bhutan’s trade deficit last year was at Nu 29.7B, down from Nu 32B in the previous two years, according to Bhutan Trade statistics.
The country in 2017 exported goods worth Nu 37.3B and imported Nu 67B worth of goods, meaning that the country’s import value exceeded the value of its exports.
When a country’s import value is greater than its export, the country is experiencing trade deficit.
Electricity export played a crucial role in narrowing the trade deficit. Had it not been for electricity export, the country’s trade deficit could hover around Nu 41B in the red.
Excluding electricity export, Bhutan’s export value stands at Nu 25.3B against Nu 67B worth of imports.
Trade deficit is the largest component of the current account deficit as it includes both trade balance and balance of payments, which is the sum of all transactions between a nation and all of its international trading partners.
Current account deficit has led to rupee shortage in the economy in the past. This problem could lead to economic instability and adversely affect the growth.
Bhutan’s trade balance with India is Nu 22.35B in the red, as the export value including Nu 12B electricity export amounts to Nu 31.6B, while Bhutan has imported Nu 53.9B worth of goods from India. This figure also dropped from Nu 23.2B in 2016.
Energy trade is also in quandary with the 5.37 million units of export earning about Nu 12B in 2017. In exchange for the supposed clean energy, the country imported Nu 6.6B worth of diesel and around Nu 2B worth of petrol. Deducting the loan repayment of hydropower projects, the energy trade balance is almost nullified.
Apart from the diesel and petrol, rice is one of the top ten import commodities, amounting to about Nu 1.7B expenditure.
Despite the country’s emphasis on agriculture and livestock, the country imported more than Nu 6.6B worth of products derived from animals and vegetables.
As per the Bhutan Trade Classification, under the HS code of live animals and animal products, which includes meat, fish and dairy produce, Bhutan imported goods worth of Nu 2.8B.
Under the HS code of vegetable products, which also include nuts, coffee, tea and cereals among others, the value of import stands at Nu 3.8B.
The country has also imported vehicles and accessories worth Nu 5.2B, of which Nu 4.3B was from India.
Bhutan’s top export, as usual, is silicon products valued at Nu 9.66B, followed by other mineral based products. Cement export is valued at Nu 1.25B.
Country-wise, India, South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand were the top five import destinations in 2017.
With regard to export, besides India, Bangladesh, Italy, the Netherlands, and Nepal were the top export destination.
Of changing values and the urgent need to look inward
April 10, 2018
Dhaari Nhaaba is a film about modern Bhutan, of a changing society and Bhutanese parents struggling to balance their time between work and family. Because the film is about parents, it is also significantly about children and the challenges they face at a time when traditional values are fast flying out the window.
If modern films have lost their principal role in the society, to help hold mirror up in our face, this one is a little different in a way that it succeeds in calling home the importance of being respectful, compassionate and caring towards elders and others. It urges us, especially working parents, to look at the way we bring up our children. The message hits us hard in the heart.
Sangla, played by Gyem Dorji, comes to live with his son and daughter-in-law, who have in between a daughter (of about nine years), only to realise that modern families in the fast growing urban centres have little time and respect for traditional family structure, much less space.
The film begins with daughter-in-law Namduel, played by Sonam Choden Rinchen, entering the mansion late after a night party someplace else. Tension builds in the family.
Sangla tries his best to adjust to the new life in a new environment with commendable acting. He is compassionate and takes what he gets by way of treatment from Namduel in a way that is sometimes painfully accepting. Sangla breaks a vase upon a day, accidently, and Sangla must look at the world beyond the walls of a happy home. The symbolism is powerful.
Actors inhabit in their characters well and segue professionally into the plots. Juxtaposition of times gone by and that of the cinematic present comes out bare and raw. Misfortunes have their curious ways to visit us every now and then, but it is love, respect and care for each other that hold us together. Wealth and lifestyle changes may be important in a rapidly changing socioeconomic space, but they do not necessarily bring peace and contentment in the hearts of an individual.
This is the principal message of the film.
Directed by Kesang P Jigmee, the film bagged eight awards at the National Film Awards 2018,. It also won one of the Prime Minister’s Award.
The two and a half hours film is showing in Trowa Threatre in Thimphu.
DoC develops operational guideline to manage heritage sites
April 10, 2018
Recognising the vulnerability of heritage sites to disasters, the Department of Culture (DoC) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders will develop an operational guideline to manage heritage sites.
A four-day workshop with the objective to develop guidelines for pre-disaster monitoring and preparedness plan for heritage sites and post-disaster response mechanism for cultural heritage professionals for recovery and restoration began yesterday at Thimphu.
The guideline will identify roles and responsibilities of cultural heritage professionals during response and recovery events, and relevant tools to equip them to carry out their responsibilities. It will also have procedures to conduct post-disaster studies and assessments before the reconstruction and renovation of the site and immediate measures that can be implemented after disaster.
DoC’s chief architect, Nagtsho Dorji, said that although DoC did have responsibilities before a disaster such as documentation, without an operational guideline, DoC did not play a role after disasters that affected the heritage sites.
She said that the guideline would help recognise individual responsibilities during disaster. “From the Wangdue fire incident, we realised that our role is more pronounced. We need to be more prepared and know our functions. We should not wait for disasters to keep reminding us where we stand. We are reconstructing and renovating the heritage sites and we feel that we are losing the authenticity of the sites.”
According to information from DoC, physical loss of the structures, especially lhakhangs and dzongs was worth USD 13.5 million during the 2009 earthquake and USD 6.96 million during the 2011 earthquake. In 2012, Bhutan also witnessed fire that razed Wangduephodrang Dzong.
“The actual loss goes beyond the loss of physical structures and includes the loss of interior assets –nangtens,” the press release issued by DoC stated.
Before the workshop, DoC identified three case heritage sites – Talung village in Haa affected by earthquake in 2011, Wangduephodrang Dzong burnt in 2012, and Kabisa lhakhang in Punakha affected by windstorm.
During the four-day workshop, stakeholders at the workshop will visit one of the sites and meet personnel involved during the disaster to understand the real experience and functioning of the stakeholders during disaster.
The representatives at the workshop will also focus on understanding the current procedures and failures of the operational procedures during a disaster.
Nagtsho Dorji said that at the end of the workshop, a framework of the guideline would be presented. “We will have an outlined guideline, which will be further consolidated by experts. We are expecting to publish the guideline for reference and adoption by stakeholders before the end of this year.”
Experts from the Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University in Japan and experts from DoC will help develop the guideline.
Representatives from Royal Bhutan Police, DeSuungs, Royal Bhutan Army, Department of Disaster Management, Dratshang Lhentshog, and forest officials are attending the workshop.
The workshop will end on April 11.
AMICI DEL BHUTAN - ITALY