Choosing to or not to

The Covid-19 pandemic has infected millions and claimed lives in the hundreds of thousands globally since its inception in the late 2019.

We are fortunate that we did not witness such developments here, but we saw the lives and livelihood of people getting disrupted by the pandemic with many losing their jobs and earnings, especially in the tourism and tourism-dependent sectors.

The consequences could have been devastating had it not been for the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu, which still continues to grant monthly income support to individuals and loan interest payment support to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic since April 2020.

Today, as we continue our relentless fight against the Covid-19, one positive development of it is how the pandemic has prompted the saving habits among our people.

Most banks in the country today are reporting about more than 20% increase in deposits over the past more than one year. The Bank of Bhutan reported a deposit of Nu 80bn as of September this year, while it was Nu 46bn in 2018. The annual increase in the past would be less than 10%, but it saw an unus ual increase of 31% last year.

Similarly, the Bhutan National Bank reported over 20% growth in the deposit since the pandemic began. The bank reported an increase of Nu 46bn in September this year from Nu 29bn in 2017.

Bank officials attribute the drastic increase in savings in a particular year to more people saving their money, otherwise they say no banks in the country would have witnessed such a drastic increase in savings.

This is a good development considering the way we looked and dealt with money in the past. A financial literacy survey conducted in 2016 showed that Bhutanese are not good savers and that we spend heavily on improving our living standards and little do we explore investment avenues.

The survey also stated that most of the family income is spent on consumption for purchase of food items and electrical appliances, and a substantial number of respondents prefer to buy cars, houses and land with the savings they have.

Contrarily, going by the reports of the drastic increase in savings in most banks today, it seems that many of us have realized the importance of saving money. The Covid-91 has been a timely reminder of the uncertainties of life and that the need for money will always be there during emergencies.

Besides the financial security that savings provide, it helps people confront some of the inevitable emergencies should something unexpected happen. That’s why many financial experts recommend saving money as one of the best financial habits that an individual can adopt. But again, the choice is ours.