Economy paramount to solve all issues

Economy paramount to solve all issues

Reporting on the state of the nation during the Parliament session, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay highlighted significant challenges facing Bhutan’s progress. Foremost among these concerns was the growing exodus of our citizens seeking better job opportunities abroad. To stem this trend, the Prime Minister emphasized the urgent need to revive and expand the economy.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay underscored the gravity of the situation, noting that a staggering 64,000 Bhutanese citizens, approximately 9% of the population, have already migrated. While overseas employment offers individuals the chance to gain new skills and support their families, it also poses substantial risks if left unchecked.

Central to Bhutan’s future vision, the Prime Minister highlighted the Gelephu Mindfulness City, a visionary project inspired by His Majesty The King. This initiative promises significant economic growth, opportunities for private sector development, solutions for youth challenges, job creation, markets for local agricultural products, incentives for expatriates to return, and a secure future for generations to come.

Acknowledging His Majesty The King’s significant contributions, including establishing Druk Holding and Investments, De-suung, and leading the national response to Covid-19, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that the Gelephu Mindfulness City would emulate these successes.

Addressing the economic impact of the pandemic, the Prime Minister stressed the necessity of injecting cash flow into the economy. To this end, the government has launched a Nu. 15 billion Economic Stimulus Programme, bolstered by support from the Government of India. This initiative will provide low-interest loans through financial institutions to revitalize sectors including private enterprise, tourism, agriculture, construction, and media.

The primary objective of the 13th Five Year Plan is to double Bhutan’s economy, with Nu. 512 billion allocated, including Nu. 267 billion for recurrent expenses and Nu. 245 billion for capital investments.

To boost national infrastructure, Nu. 68 billion has been allocated, focusing on national highways, new roads, bridges, gewog centre upgrades, schools, hospitals, and irrigation canals. These projects aim to stimulate economic activity and enhance the construction industry.

Nu. 10 billion has been earmarked for ICT development, aiming to boost the sector and technological infrastructure, while Nu. 72 billion will support local governments, funding projects like chiwog roads, chain-link fencing, and irrigation canal maintenance to improve rural livelihoods and agricultural productivity.

Recognizing human resources as pivotal, Nu. 60 billion will expand health, education, vocational, and technical training institutes to enhance workforce skills and catalyze economic growth.

In a bid to enhance hydropower capacity, the government plans to add 3,119 MW over five years, aiming for a total capacity of 5,500 MW with a Nu. 527 billion budget outside the Five Year Plan. Additionally, strategies to attract Nu. 500 billion in foreign direct investment aim to bolster economic resilience and sectoral growth.

These initiatives underscore the government’s commitment to sustainable growth and prosperity, targeting vital sectors for economic revitalization.

Meanwhile, the focus on GMC indicated the importance of the Royal vision. The PM said there is only one solution to addressing the aforementioned challenges: reviving and expanding our economy at the earliest, adding that at the forefront of our strategies is the historic Gelephu Mindfulness City, conceived from His Majesty The King’s profound wisdom. He called the  Gelephu Mindfulness City a precious gift to the people of Bhutan that ensures the nation’s present well-being and future security. The PM said  it holds the promise of economic prosperity, opportunities for the private sector, solutions to the challenges facing our youth, employment opportunities, markets for agricultural produce, motivation for Bhutanese living abroad to return to the country, and security for future generations. This historic initiative by His Majesty The King not only inspires and motivates us, but also garners worldwide admiration.
Underling that Bhutan is at the crossroads, facing unprecedented times, the PM reiterated that the Gelephu Mindfulness City is our key strategy in addressing and overcoming the pressing challenges. Furthermore, the Economic Stimulus Programme and the 13th Five Year Plan are poised to significantly boost our economic development. Additionally, hydropower projects, tourism initiatives, and foreign direct investments will further stimulate economic growth, the PM said.

By Sangay Rabten, Thimphu