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Vehicle number grows despite fiscal and monetary measures

About 20 new vehicles on an average are imported into the country everyday since 2015.

As of June, this year, total number of vehicles stand at 96,307 according to figures from Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA). This is an increase of about 4,300 vehicles within six months, meaning that about 23 new vehicles hit the road everyday.

The growth in vehicle number has happened despite fiscal measures in place such as shifting the tax valuation point from point of entry to point of sale. From the monetary policy, the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) has also revised the loan to value ratio on vehicle loan.

The RMA also recently issued a notification stating that the financial institutions shall sanction vehicle loan upon the submission of price list by the dealers, which is based on the cost inclusive of all relevant taxes, margin and expenses incurred by the dealers. “The final price list submitted to the financial institutions by the dealers shall be shared with Royal Monetary Authority for its supervision purposes and with Department of Revenue and Customs for tax verification purposes,” it stated.

An official from the RMA said this is to ensure that dealers don’t collude with clients and inflate the price to avail more loans.

However, number of vehicle is increasing every hour and the rate of increase remains stubborn.

There are only 254 passenger transport buses as of December last year, according to the annual infocomm statistics published by the information and communications ministry. The passenger flow has also been recorded at little over 1M.

In 2010, there were 185 passenger buses, indicating an increase of just 69 buses in a span of seven years. There is also no significant difference in terms of passenger flow.

Despite concerns being raised over improving public transport service, figures say otherwise.

In 2001, total vehicles in the country were recorded at 22,527, of which government and corporations owned 2,666. Within a decade, the number more than doubled to 53,382. Government and corporate owned pool vehicles also nearly doubled to 4,622. As of December last year, there are 6,854 government and corporate owned pool vehicles.

Due to the import ban, between 2012 and 2013, only 477 vehicles were imported. After adopting the new taxation policy, the import ban was lifted on July 1, 2014. This resulted in increase of vehicles from 67,926 in 2013 to 69,602 in 2014. In the following year, the number increased by 5,588. This nearly doubled in 2016 when 9,107 new vehicles were bought within a year.

In 2016, Diesel was the top import item valued at Nu 5.77B. Petrol and diesel combined amounted to Nu 7.53B in fuel expenses last year alone. The country imported Nu 6.6B worth of diesel and around Nu 2B worth of petrol in 2017.

Bhutan trade statistics show that Nu 547M worth of vehicles were imported in 2013 (during the import ban), which shot up to more than Nu 2B in 2014, of which Nu 1.6B were imported from India. In 2017, import of vehicles amounted to more than Nu 6B and constituted about Nu 7B in the preceding year.

In 2001, vehicles manufactured by 19 auto manufacturers were hitting the Bhutanese road. As of last year, vehicles from 70 different companies are plying the country’s roads. Maruti, Mahindra, Hyundai and Toyota are among the top companies that have penetrated the domestic market.

Tshering Dorji

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