Bhutan to Boost Economy and Infrastructure with Comprehensive Development Plan

In his State of the Nation Address on July 4th, 2024, Bhutanese Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay outlined a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering the economy and improving public services. The plan focuses on several key areas:

Private Sector Development:

  • Loan Moratorium Lifted: The Economic Stimulus Programme will lift the moratorium on loans.
  • Low-Interest Loans: Facilitate low-interest loans to revive and expand businesses and encourage new startups.
  • Business-Friendly Policies: Implement policies, regulations, and guidelines to strengthen the private sector and improve the ease of doing business.

Public Infrastructure Enhancement:

  • Highway Expansion: Widen 11 national highways and construct seven new highways.
  • Monitoring Teams: Establish dedicated teams to ensure timely completion and quality of public infrastructure.

Tourism Development and Diversification:

  • Policy Improvements: Enhance policies, systems, and services to boost tourism.
  • New Markets: Identify and tap into new tourism markets.

ICT Sector Support:

  • Business Opportunities: Facilitate opportunities for ICT companies.
  • Internet Gateway: Establish a third Internet gateway and work towards reducing internet tariffs.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):

  • Economic Opportunities: The Economic Development Board will explore diverse economic opportunities.
  • FDI Policy Review: Review and enhance the Foreign Direct Investment Policy and create special investment opportunities for Bhutanese living abroad.

Hydropower Generation:

  • Power Transmission: Start transmitting power from the Punatsangchhu-2 Hydroelectric Project.
  • Project Resumption: Resume construction of the Punatsangchhu-1 Hydroelectric Project.
  • New Projects: Initiate construction on multiple hydroelectric projects, including Kholongchhu, Suchhu, Burgangchhu, Yungichhu, Druk Bindu-1, Druk Bindu-2, Gamri-1, Begana, and Jomori.

21st-Century Economic Roadmap:

  • Economic Strengthening: Formalize the roadmap towards strengthening the economy and advancing growth and development.

Agriculture and Livestock Enhancement:

  • Low-Interest Loans: Provide low-interest loans to farmers through the Economic Stimulus Programme.
  • Road Repairs: Repair and blacktop 20 gewog centre roads and maintain 200 chiwog roads.
  • Irrigation Projects: Initiate 56 irrigation projects within the financial year.
  • Fencing Installation: Install chain-link fencing in about 200 chiwogs.
  • Market Access: Formulate policies and programs to identify and prioritize cereals, fruits, and livestock products, ensuring market access.
  • Power Tillers: Introduce a low-interest loan program for farmers to purchase power tillers.
  • Compensation and Insurance: Develop policies for crop and livestock compensation and insurance.

Human Resource Development:

  • Gyalsung Program: Inaugurate the Gyalsung program on September 5, 2024.
  • Education Reforms: Enhance and strengthen education policies, upgrade 63 schools to central schools, and develop new policies and systems.
  • Healthcare Services: Start the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Hospitals in Thimphu and Mongar, and develop a detailed project report for a specialized cancer hospital.
  • Vocational Training: Upgrade and promote vocational training institutes.
  • National Sports Plans: Develop and implement national sports plans in collaboration with the Bhutan Olympic Committee.
  • Higher Studies Loans: Develop policies for interest-free loans for youth pursuing higher studies abroad.
  • Substance Abuse: Address substance abuse through collective action, establishing a new school for students struggling with substance use and a specialized rehabilitation center.

Spiritual Heritage and Culture:

  • Dzong Construction: Continue the construction of Sarpang Dzong and renovate and expand sacred temples.
  • Dzongkha Promotion: Prioritize the development and promotion of Dzongkha through ICT.
  • Performing Arts: Institute specialized training programs in performing arts.

Public Service Delivery:

  • Civil Service Reforms: Work with the Royal Civil Service Commission to advance reforms.
  • Integrated Service Centre: Develop policy, system, and guidelines for timely and quality public service delivery.
  • Local Government Training: Roll out orientation training on the 13th Five Year Plan for local governments.

Additional Priorities for Financial Year:

  • Home Ownership: Formulate policies and plans for low-interest loans to facilitate home ownership.
  • Rural Life Insurance: Increase rural life insurance coverage.
  • Motherhood Allowances: Provide allowances for mothers giving birth to a third child.

The PM said that these comprehensive measures aim to ensure sustainable development, economic growth, and improved quality of life for Bhutanese citizens.