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The Rupee stranglehold

We would like to believe the government’s claim, not so long ago, that the Rupee crunch the country continues to face today, was not yet a crisis, but a mere shortage.

Perhaps that is why the country continues to borrow more Rupees, the most recent instance being the Rs 4B that the Indian government has committed to lend to ease the shortage that continues to weigh on its people.

After more than a year since the deficiency emerged, it would be worth knowing what it is that the Bhutanese learnt from the whole issue.

Of course, the bitter realisation came in the form of loss of parity between the Rupee and the Ngultrum, but has that changed anything in how the Bhutanese conduct their affairs?

When ripples of the issue were being felt, yes, it showed the authorities the holes in national financial governance, although relevant institutions do not want to admit the flaws.

But it was people, who misused, what to them was, seemingly easy credit opportunities that faced the first of the strongest ripples the issue sent out.

It is only when things begin presenting themselves as no longer good and rosy that people are pushed to change.

As it is with any book of fiction, the issue of Rupee shortage presents us with two possible endings.

Whether or not we have hit a crisis, ours has to be a story, while in the process of writing, should wean us off the habit of excessive dependency.

Apart from repeatedly clarifying during gatherings that it was not the government’s doing, but that of the central bank’s to ration the Rupee, Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley has gone on to continually remind farmers and Bhutanese in general not to rely on the neighbouring Indian states for basically just about everything including food and other commodities that are available within the country.

Several measures have been put in place to encourage local produce of vegetables and the process of importing them from bordering Indian states has been streamlined.

The Rupee in short supply, various businesses have slowed and construction sector, in particular, is going through a rough patch.

But the tendency these businesses have gone on to show is that, so long as business as usual works for them, even if for a while, they care not whether the path will end in tears.

What will it take for the country to write an ending that does not come at the cost of some crisis?  Herein lies our challenge.

How much more should we borrow to ease this pressure we feel today that will persist unless we change how we conduct ourselves?

It would be sad to learn of the country wearing golden handcuffs that increased dependency on foreign aid eventually spells.

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One comment

  1. Good article…We must mend our ways to help ourselves and our economy.
    If NOT NOW…..WHEN….?

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