Bhutan recognizes importance of NRB

Bhuwan Gautam

By: Bhuwan Gautam

Bhutan has finally begun recognizing the importance of Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB) for its socio-economic development.

In addition to approx. 90,000 resettled Bhutanese in different parts of the world, there are few thousands Bhutanese nationals coming directly from Bhutan and are living in major cities like New York (USA), Sidney (Australia) and London (UK).

The remittances sent from these people back home have improved Bhutanese economy. It was in this context that some of the resettled Bhutanese and exile leadership have proposed government of Bhutan to recognize resettled Bhutanese as non-resident Bhutanese since 2009. They believe that giving recognition to resettled Bhutanese as Non-Resident Bhutanese would be a win-win situation for Bhutan and Bhutanese!

Recent article on Kuensel on the importance of Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB) has raised hope and optimism among resettled Bhutanese. On March 14, 2015, Kuensel published an article reporting 8 million USD (Nu 508 million) in 2014. We believe that this figure does include money sent by resettled Bhutanese to their friends and families back home.

We emphasize that Bhutan government should ease ways for resettled Bhutanese to send money to their families by creating direct money transfer system- bank-to-bank- in at least one bank or many banks in Bhutan. Relatives back home should be given options to open bank account where they could receive direct money transfer in dollars from the foreign bank accounts.

Bhutan must return those refugees who are willing to return to their country. Secondly, let the current Bhutanese leadership look this opportunity and deliberate their effort facilitate NRB talks.

Here is the transcript of it:

Citizens working abroad has increased significantly over recent year.

Economists believe foreign remittances provide economic fuel to the receiving nation, arguing that spending and investments drive the economy. There are also others though, who say that it causes negative impacts such as inflation.

Bhutan last year received Australian dollar (AUD) 4.24M, which is roughly Nu 203M at the current buying rate. Remittances received from the US amounted to USD 4.15M or Nu 261M.

Remittances from Australia and the US comprised 91 percent of the total remittance receipts for Bhutan.

In 2013, Bhutan received Nu 12M from Australia. There was however a slight decrease in remittances from the US. In 2013, remittances from the US was Nu 346M.

Bhutan also received “other European currencies” besides the Euro worth Nu 13M and other currencies worth Nu 1.9M.

Unlike in most of the South Asian neighbours, foreign remittances do not form a major portion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Bhutan. A recent World Bank report titled “Global Economic Prospects: Having Fiscal Space and Using It” reveals that remittance inflow into Bhutan is the lowest among the SAARC countries, contributing only two percent of the country’s GDP.

Nepal, where 29 percent of its GDP comprises remittance receipts, was the highest receiver of foreign remittances in the region last year. Bangladesh was the second highest receiver and remittances contributed to 11 percent of its GDP.

Meanwhile, the government has plans to send about 30,000 Bhutanese to work abroad. This is further to likely increase foreign remittance to Bhutan.