PM outlines strategies to address challenges to revive and expand the economy

DECHEN PEM

Thimphu

“The only one solution to addressing the challenges of reviving and expanding our economy at the earliest is the historic Gelephu Mindfulness City, conceived from His Majesty The King’s profound wisdom,” Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said while presenting the state of the nation in the joint sitting of the Parliament on 5 July and was referring to the strategies to address the challenges in reviving the economy.

He said that the Gelephu Mindfulness City is a precious gift to the people of Bhutan that will ensure the nation’s present well-being and future security. 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.

PM said this historic initiative by His Majesty The King not only inspires and motivates us, but has also garnered worldwide admiration. “It places a strong sense of responsibility on each of us. We remain fully reassured that all endeavors undertaken or led by His Majesty The King consistently yielded results beyond our expectations. As His Majesty leads the plans, policies, programs, and strategies for the Gelephu Mindfulness City, it is the duty of the government and the people to align our thoughts and beliefs, and fulfill our roles with utmost sincerity and dedication.”

Lyonchhen stated some of the countless noble deeds of His Majesty with examples of the establishment of the Druk Holding and Investments, the establishment of De-suung, His leadership in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, citizenship Kidu, land Kidu, health Kidu, disaster management, and the Gyalsung project born of His Majesty’s wisdom and farsighted vision.

“The profound benefits of these deeds for the country and people are clearly visible, and therefore, we are confident that the Gelephu Mindfulness City will be successful.”

Lyonchhen however, cautioned that we must not be complacent and place the responsibilities solely on His Majesty.

“We must actively work towards rebuilding our economy, creating jobs and business opportunities, exploring income-generating initiatives, and raising salaries for our workforce.”

In order to revive our economy, which has been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lyonchhen said that the govt must inject cash flow into the economy. In order to kick start the strategy, the govt has instituted a Nu 15 billion Economic Stimulus Programme, with generous support from the Government of India.

“I whole heartedly thank the Government of India and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for the support. The fund will be distributed as low-interest loans through financial institutions, to various sectors. This will help revive our economy by stimulating the growth of our private sector and businesses, small industries, tourism, agriculture, livestock, construction industry, transportation, and media and film industries.”

Lyonchhen recalling his past experience said that in 2013, when the second elected government took office, the govt successfully implemented an economic stimulus plan of Nu 5 billion to revive the economy with support from the Government of India.

“Therefore, we must leverage the opportunity presented by the Government’s Economic Stimulus Programme, shoulder added responsibility and work hard towards achieving concrete results. The Economic Stimulus Programme can immediately address our ailing economy.”

He said that in addition, the 13th Five Year Plan will further strengthen our economic foundation. The13th Five Year Plan is markedly different from all previous plans, with a budget nearly double that of the 12th Five Year Plan. Moreover, the primary objective of the 13th Five Year Plan is to double the size of our economy and make it robust and stable.

He said from the total of Nu 512 billion in the 13th Five Year Plan, Nu 267 billion has been allocated for recurrent expenditure and Nu 245 billion for capital expenditure.

Affirming the strong support from the development partners, Lyonchhen reiterated that the Government of India is the largest among them. The Government of India’s support of Nu 85 billion for the 13th Five Year Plan is double its support for the 12th Five Year Plan.

Likewise, Lyonchhen expressed gratitude to all other development partners, including the European Union, the Government of Japan, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the United Nations, and various other governments and agencies.

Speaking about the 13th Five Year Plan, Lyonchhen said the plan will directly embolden the economy.

Firstly, he said, Nu 68 billion is allotted for infrastructure development, which includes widening of national highways and building new ones, constructing bridges, blacktopping gewog centre roads, building schools and hospitals, and constructing irrigation canals. These initiatives will stimulate economic growth and directly benefit those in the construction industries.

Secondly, the govt has allotted Nu 10 billion for ICT development, to not only stimulate growth of the ICT industry but also enhance the technological infrastructure, thereby strengthening our economy.

Thirdly, the govt has allocated Nu 72 billion for the local government. This will support the construction of chiwog roads, installation of chain-link fencing, and maintenance of irrigation canals. These initiatives will improve the livelihoods of rural residents and enhance agricultural and livestock production.

Fourthly, the govt has provided Nu 60 billion for human resource development. Recognizing that human resources are key to boosting the economy, the govt will expand health, educational, vocational, and technical training institutes. This, in turn, is expected to drive economic growth.

Recognizing that hydropower is one of the key pillars of our economic development, Lyonchhen added that the govt plans to increase the installed capacity of hydropower generation by 3,119 MW over the next five years, bringing the total installed capacity to approximately 5,500 MW. For this ambitious initiative, the govt has allocated a budget of Nu 527 billion, outside the 13th Five Year Plan.

The govt has also put in place strategies to increase foreign direct investment to Nu 500 billion and acknowledging that tourism brings cash income to communities in diverseways, the govt has put in place special plans and priorities for tourism development.

“In summary, our country is at a crossroads, facing unprecedented times. 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.

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