Loan accessibility still an issue

EAC recommends detailed plans and resources for 13th Five-Year Plan

The National Council’s (NC) Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) has recommended that the government provide detailed plans and resource allocations for major economic projects beyond hydropower and renewable energy in the 13th Five-Year Plan. During the ongoing parliamentary session, the chairman of the EAC, Tshewang Rinzin, highlighted the absence of detailed plans and resource allocations for major economic projects outside the hydropower and renewable energy sectors in the 13th Five-Year Plan documentation.
According to the committee chairman, there is a lack of clear details on major economic project plans for the agriculture and livestock, tourism, mining, and construction sectors. For instance, the chairman noted that the detailed plans for hydropower include both large projects like Nyera Amari, Kholongchu, Dorjilung, and Kuri-Gongri, as well as small hydropower projects in phases such as Limechhu, Yangchhu, and Burgangchhu. “The government should also provide detailed plans for other projects to ensure transparency, predictability, and consistency in the plan’s implementation, follow-up, and monitoring,” he stated.
Based on their findings, the EAC proposed four specific and one general recommendation to enhance the effectiveness of the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP):
1. Detailed Plans for Non-Hydropower Projects: Provide detailed plans for projects beyond hydropower and renewable energy to ensure consistency, predictability, and transparency.
2. Strengthen Human Resources in Local Governments: Strengthen human resources in local governments, particularly in agriculture and livestock, engineering, architecture, and accounting. The committee suggests filling all vacant positions by December 2024 to ensure effective service delivery and regional development. The chairman expressed concern that the shortage of skilled professionals in these areas could impede service delivery and lower development levels in villages.
3. Revisit the Resource Allocation Formula (RAF): Revisit the current RAF, proposing the adoption of the Common Minimum Infrastructure (CMI) framework to address regional disparities by prioritizing essential infrastructure like road access, power supply, and adequate water supply.
4. Include Economic Stimulus Plan in 13th FYP: The Nu 15 billion economic stimulus plan should be included in the 13th FYP to enhance transparency, accountability, and effective monitoring of its macroeconomic impacts. “Excluding the stimulus plan from the FYP does not provide transparency in allocation and accountability for resource use and limits the possibility of monitoring the macroeconomic effects of such large expenditures,” the chairman said.
5. Timely Completion of Hydropower Projects: Ensure the timely completion of hydropower projects and maintain adequate reserves to comply with constitutional provisions.
The recommendations regarding detailed plans for major economic projects, revisiting the RAF, and including the economic stimulus plan secured majority support from the House. However, the recommendations on prioritizing the allocation of adequate human resources to support local governments by December 2024 and ensuring the timely completion of hydropower projects were tasked to the committee for further review, due to concerns and additional submissions from members. The House will adopt the 13th FYP, including the final recommendations, on July 1, 2024.
The 13th Five-Year Plan aims to transform Bhutan into a high-income Gross National Happiness (GNH) economy by 2034, focusing on the interconnected pillars of people, progress, and prosperity. The government aims to increase GDP per capita income from USD 3,833 to USD 4,250 by 2029 and to USD 12,000 by 2034. The plan also aims to ensure safe and livable human settlements in all 20 dzongkhags by 2029 and provide comprehensive social protection mechanisms and services across the life cycle by 2034.
According to the plan, by 2029, all Bhutanese will have access to comprehensive social protection mechanisms and services across the life cycle, particularly for the most vulnerable. Additionally, by 2027, the government aims to create full employment (97.5%) with quality jobs, and by 2029, the income of the bottom 40% will quadruple.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu