Despite the European Union (EU) officially concluding their assistance in 2020, a delegation from EU committed to support the country with 31-million (M) Euros for the next three years.
This was announced by the EU delegation during the 15 Round Table Meeting (RTM) on 2 September this week held in Thimphu.
The Secretary for Gross National Happiness Commission, Thinley Namgyel, said: “Irrespective of our graduation status, EU will continue to support Bhutan and we have already started working in terms of next phase of supporting which is from 2021-2027. The leader of the EU delegation announced commitment of Euro 31-M for the next 2021-2024. In 2024, there will be a midterm review and for the remaining year, EU will be committing for more support.”
The Secretary said they have planned two rounds of meeting. “The first RTM was to sensitize our development partner in term of prioritize for next the five year plan. The current meeting was to update in terms of the progress, basically the outcome from the mid-term review,” he said.
The Secretary added that they need to do some of the adjustment that we required to make for the remaining plan; lot of adjustment has been under going on daily basis especially after the March 2020 pandemic.
Further, to cover the deficit faced by the government during this fiscal year, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation committed to frontload USD 1.5-M.
Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said: “During the RTM, some of the partners expressed where we should reprioritize, new areas of funding and identify new areas of partnerships. All partners have expressed full-corporation and completely agreed to the development path that we have set for the reprioritization program.”
Lyonpo further added that some of the development activities reprioritized would be to strengthen the country’s economy. Despite difficulties posed by the pandemic development partners have assured that they will continue support he said.
“We were asked to focus on recovery of the economy,” Lyonpo said, adding that everybody is aware that this is the last mile plan to graduate from LDC.
“How do we graduate in sustainable manner? It’s not just sufficient to graduate but to be able to graduate sustainably and to maintain middle income state,” he said.
While the RTM is the highest forum for policy dialogue between the RGoB and its Development Partners. It is an opportunity to deepen understanding and partnership through sharing of development experiences including success, challenges and opportunities.
The press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that this year’s RTM is being held at a time when Bhutan is midway through its 12th FYP and is set to graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category in 2023.
“This is an important milestone in its development journey. The RTM would provide updates on the progress of the 12th FYP and inform on the country’s macroeconomic performance and outlook. The RTM also share challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and response measures of the RGoB,” it stated.
Meanwhile, the RTM was convened in a hybrid format (in-person and virtual) considering the restrictions posed by the pandemic. A total of 146 participants, of which 94 representatives of Development Partners and 52 national participants, will attend the RTM. Development Partners delivered statements on the areas of cooperation with RGoB.
To track progress of the 12th FYP, the Mid-Term Review (MTR) was conducted between April to May 2021 to facilitate adjustments of plan priorities and to resolve issues and challenges. Out of 2,345 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the 12th FYP, 628 KPIs accounting to 26.78 percent were achieved, 1,488 were on-track accounting to 63.45 percent and 239 were at-risk accounts to 10.19 percent.
Additionally, the MTR formally endorsed the reprogramming and reprioritization of plan activities including responses and recovery efforts of Covid-19 pandemic. The financial achievement reported during the MTR was 45.48 percent.
The 14th RTM was held in March 2019 in Thimphu.