The year 2017 was another eventful journey for Bhutan and its people
From the Doklam issue to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation by the Government of India, Bhutan felt the repercussions of a political crisis and that of a major economic reform by its closest neighbor and ally, India.
Bhutan was unprepared for a lot of the ripple effects that came with the GST, and the Doklam issue raised outcry and debate but as usual, visionary leadership held the pieces and strands of the society together, and the country sailed through these.
Bhutan also jumped up a few places in the press freedom index ranking but the fact that a local Dzongkha newspaper closed shop just goes to show that we need to do a lot more in terms of media health and vitality in the country, especially financial security.
Talking about media, Business Bhutan did a number of stories that garnered attention: like the one on the East-West highway, which we termed a behemoth blunder committed by the government.
The widening works on the highway has caused endless inconvenience to commuters and had a huge impact on tourism in the east. The story received critical commendation from a lot of quarters especially the Opposition.
Business Bhutan also ran a series of stories on GST elucidating its impact and implementation.
On the other hand, 2017 was also a relatively peaceful year. There were no extreme controversies or public figure bashings. Security issues were resolved peacefully.
While GST might have been the only game changer for a lot of industries and businesses in the country, the government tried its best to create awareness on the benefits that should pass down to the ultimate consumers. It also held talks with the Indian government to facilitate this.
GST created problems at the point of entry at the border when consignments were held up for weeks but the authorities have been working on it.
Now what remains to be seen is whether GST is actually being implemented and the benefits are passed down to consumers in the field. To overlook this, the government has already authorized the Consumer and Protection Office.
And now as we step into the new year, the upcoming parliamentary elections is the big news. Let us hope and pray that the elections are conducted in a most clean and democratic manner and that the best candidates win.
Let us also hope that the fourth estate does a great role in covering the elections and educating voters and candidates alike on what goes into making fair and free elections.
2018 certainly holds a lot of promise and we should look forward to it. Better if we have new year resolutions to give us a sense of direction and purpose.
Here is wishing you a successful and happy new year ahead folks!