It is in the nature of human beings to look back and dwell on the past. Some gurus say it is productive; that we should learn from the past, while others preach to forget the past. There is wisdom in both. And the importance of the past is augmented, especially when it directs the present and the future. This is the very reason that makes 2022 significant, for the year brought to us both the good and the evil, historic and inconceivable moments and thus became a past that just cannot be interred in the libraries of our memories. It has been a year of reckoning, one that has taught us several lessons and most importantly the year which directs the character and moral of the New Year, 2023.
Our fight against the COVID 19 pandemic, personally led by His Majesty achieved international recognition. It reflected the importance of leaders, who can galvanize, rally and inspire and the strength of unity even in the direst circumstances. Led by a King, who continues to raise the bar of leadership, we became the fist. There were no fingers and we triumphed. 2023 should be a year without divisions. And with the fourth general elections to be conducted in 2023, the probabilities of divisions loom over our heads.
Defined by some as the episode of 2022, we saw 47 senior executives managed out, as an unprecedented transformational exercise began. The message is loud and clear – there is no room for those that cannot deliver, while the doors to rise are open for those who are capable. 2023 should be the year where we begin to concretely see the positive impacts of the Transformation.
In what falls in the category of the most discussed and debated policy intervention and change, the parliament enacted and passed the Tourism Levy Act 2022. This saw the sustainable development fund (SDF) increase from USD 65 a day per person to USD 200. It was a change long overdue. We are yet to see the long term implications of this. 2023 should be the year where every one, including opponents of this paradigm shift begin harnessing the benefits of the Act.
2022 further unveiled the darker sides, especially the tentacles of corruption. And the pick of the year is the infamous Phajo Nidup, a former monk without a degree, who swindled about Nu 800 million. This case is testament that corruption continues to thrive. It also indicates that there are loopholes that need to be plugged. In 2023, we should ensure that the likes of Phajo and collaborators are cleansed from our society.
The above are but few examples of what we witnessed. However, there is one element common to all – our roles as citizens, civil servants, leaders and others. We beat COVID 19 as all of us gave the best we could. We can relish the fruits of Transformation and the Tourism Levy Act if we play our roles sincerely. If everyone had played their roles diligently, Phajo would not have been born.
A just, harmonious, peaceful and prosperous Bhutan is His Majesty’s vision. 2023 is the year where all of us should work towards achieving it. And it is possible!