English | Dzongkha Friday, August 17, 2018

Bhutan’s GDP strong but not leading to job creation, says ADB

Sherub Dorji, Thimphu
Jun 15, 2018

Despite sustained economic progress in the country over the past years, youth unemployment has been worsening, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Outlook 2018.

The report projects Bhutan’s GDP growth at 7.4 per cent for the fiscal year 2019, which is slightly higher than the current fiscal year.

Last year, ADB projected a growth rate of 10 per cent for 2018, but the actual growth remained just above 7 per cent. Delayed completion of the two large hydro power plants- Punatsangchuu I and II, were cited as reasons for GDP growth missing the projected rate.

With the commissioning of the Mangdechhu Hydropower plant later this year, the rate is projected to rise to 7.5 per cent in the coming fiscal year.

Dr Kanokpan Lao-Araya, the Country Director of Bhutan Resident Mission, ADB descrbed economic progress not resulting in job creation as the opportunity cost.

“This is the opportunity cost. If the youth unemployment has not been addressed effectively, it will have impact on the country in the long run,” Dr Kanokpan Lao-Araya said.

“You also miss out on the youth who are actually very inapt to IT, digital and new technology. If they don’t get involved in the economy, Bhutan will soon have older generation. That will be a big burden.”

The 2016 Labour Force Survey puts youth unemployment rate at an alarming 13.2 per cent. With 66,000 new job seekers expected to enter the job market in the 12th Five Year Plan, the situation looks grim.

The causes of high unemployment stated in the report are nothing new. Mismatch of skills and preference for office jobs persist as causes of unemployment in the country.

Another important factor pointed out is the support granted by family members to young, unemployed people. It is blamed for sapping their motivation to pursue financial independence.

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