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Outstanding external debt stands at USD 2.5B

The country has USD 2.51B in external debt as of September last year, which is equivalent to over Nu 163B considering the average exchange rate of Nu 65 per USD.

According to the latest statistical bulletin of the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), outstanding external debt has increased by almost Nu 50B since 2013-14 fiscal year until September last year. This was mainly driven by the rupee loan, as there is no substantial increase in the loans denominated in convertible currency.

Of the total outstanding debt, Nu 120.1B is rupee debt and USD 675M (approx. Nu 4.3 B) are convertible currency loans. RMA data includes both private and public debt and so is not comparable to the government’s data.

RMA’s data includes loan availed by corporations and external borrowings made by private entities. For instance, the Bhutan Ventures Private Limited has sought a loan of USD 30M from external sources. The Bhutan Hydropower services also availed a loan of USD 7.4M from Deutsche Investitions.

Hydropower debt forms 94 percent of the rupee debt amounting to Nu 113B, which again constitutes almost 70 percent of the total external debt.

While Tala hydropower project will liquidate its loan in December this year, it still has an outstanding debt of about Nu 2B.

During the same period, Punatshangchhu I has an outstanding loan of Nu 45.4B while Punatshangchhu II has Nu 35.9B. Mangdechhu project has accumulated a debt of Nu 29.2B. The Nikachhu project has also availed a loan of Nu 437M from the State Bank of India.

Besides hydropower, the government has availed a loan of Nu 7B loan through the GoI line of credit.

Other outstanding loan from the bilateral arrangement include, Nu 4.3B from government of Austria and Nu2.6B from JICA.

Loan from Asian Development Bank forms 41 percent of the outstanding convertible currency loan (Nu 1.8B) while outstanding loan equivalent to Nu 1.4B from the World Bank makes up 32 percent.

The country’s debt constitutes 110 percent of the GDP. Should the country’s debt be divided among its people (700,000), each person owes more than Nu 230,000.

Tshering Dorji

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