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Punatshangchhu I, financed by India, is the biggest hydropower project now under development in Bhutan. (Photo by Nidup Gyeltshen)
Economy

Bhutan growth soars amid hydropower building boom

Rising debt to India could make country the Greece of South Asia, critics say

NIDUP GYELTSHEN and PHUNTSHO WANGDI, Contributing writers | Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan

THIMPHU -- Sustained investment in hydropower is pushing economic growth in the small and isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to new heights. This year the landlocked nation, which built its first modern road in the 1960s, is poised to post Asia's highest growth rates.

Amid slowing growth in China and India, the Asian Development Bank in April projected that Bhutan's gross domestic product would expand 8.2% for the fiscal year that ended June and 9.9% for the fiscal year ending in 2018. At about the same time the International Monetary Fund estimated growth for this year at 11.2%.

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