The widespread use of money in Bhutan only began in the early 1960s with the growth of trade with India and the initiation of bilateral development aid from India to Bhutan. Even though Bhutan's economy is highly
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Bhutan|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: Bhutan|
|ngultrum (Nu) per US$1|
|Note: The Bhutanese ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee which is also legal tender.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
underdeveloped the price of consumer goods has remained fairly stable. The average percentage change of prices each year was only 10 percent between 1990 and 1998. Total international currency reserves by major Bhutanese holders (mainly the Royal Monetary Authority, Bank of Bhutan, and Bhutan National Bank) rose dramatically in value from US$106.9 million in 1993-94 to US$218.2 million in 1997-98.
Two banks operate in the country: the Bhutan National Bank has offices in Thimpu and a branch in Phuentsholing, and the Bank of Bhutan has branches in the country's main centers. No restrictions are placed on the quantity of currencies that can be taken into Bhutan although they are limited to the main international currencies. In the late 1990s Bhutan National Bank was partly privatized when the government sold 40 percent of its shares to Citibank and the Asian Development Bank; the government now owns only 27 percent of the bank. Bhutan has a stock exchange but it is not open to external investment.