Lyonchhen outlines the way forward

National News Politics

In the State of the Nation presented on Wednesday

Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering announced the future plans and the way forward in fulfilling the commitments made by the government while presenting the state of the nation report in Parliament on Wednesday .

Health: In the coming year, the government will introduce breast feeding allowance as part of the 1,000 Golden day Plus program, which ensures care and nourishment of mother and child since the day of conception.

Lyonchhen said that every Bhutanese seeking endoscopy and ultrasound services will not have to travel beyond their dzongkhag/gewog, as they strengthen primary health facilities, a key component of the health flagship program.

“In our commitment to eliminate cervical cancer in Bhutan, by the end of the year, we will make sure all women requiring Pap smear undergo the screening procedure, as part of their routine check-up,” Lyonchhen said.

Foreign policy: Lyonchhen mentioned that this year the government will establish at least one embassy/consulate and explore establishing diplomatic relations with two countries, given the large numbers of Bhutanese living abroad.

Tourism: “In the coming year, we will pass and implement Tourism policy to revive visionary policy of ‘High Value, Low Volume’,” said Lyonchhen.

CSI: Government will establish startup centre with full autonomy to create vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Digital Drukyul: Government will launch Electronic Patient Information System (e-PIS) to enhance efficient and effective health services.

Waste management: Lyonchhen also mentioned that in the coming year, the government will distribute three-colored bins to every household and institution across the country through the Waste Management Flagship.

Legislative Plans: The government will initiate the enhancement of Limitation Bill, for the simple reason of efficiency and prescribe the period within which existing right can be enforced in courts of law. “Within the year, we will initiate NCWC bill to support our women and children,” Lyonchhen said.

The government will amend the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substance and Substance Abuse Act so that substance abusers can be send to rehabilitation centers rather than prison.

The government will initiate a process to draft the Administrative Tribunal Bill, which will deal with administrative cases and reduce burden on the courts.

Organic farming: The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will supply locally grown vegetables such as asparagus, beans, cauliflower and chilies to schools.

Decentralization: Government will approve and begin implementation of decentralization policy to ensure clarity in roles and responsibilities among local governments, central agencies and entities.

Gender: Lyonchhen said that government will construct gender friendly toilets in all the dzongkhags.

Economy: The government aspires to increase the Gross Domestic Product per capita to over US$ 4,500 in the next five years.  “We will make targeted investments in Agriculture, Tourism, CSIs, Mines and Minerals and Hydropower,” Lyonchhen said.

Agriculture: The government will work toward ensuring food self-sufficiency and reducing import. In 2018 alone, vegetables worth of Nu 3.2bn were imported. “We must at least aim to substitute import of items that can be produced locally,” Lyonchhen said.

Efforts would be doubled to promoting cooperative farming by providing necessary support such as credit, logistics, storage and transportation facilities and most important by linking up with schools, colleges, technical training institutes and hospital.

Tourism: The sector is critical in promoting brand Bhutan. “We will discourage mass tourism that not only strains our limited infrastructure but also compromises quality of services and impedes enrichment of tourism experiences for visitors,” said Lyonchhen.

While initiatives to promote tourism throughout the country will be pursued to contribute to more balanced regional development, equitable allocation of revenue earned from tourism among the regions will be ensured.

The sector will be fully tapped to triple revenue and employ about 15,000 Bhutanese. A flagship program on sustainable tourism has been approved in the 12th FYP.

Hydropower: Hydropower will continue to be a priority. While the focus would be to complete the ongoing projects, the government would aspire to see the construction of Sunkosh Reservoir Power Plant take off during its term.

To diversify the economy and create more jobs, the government will institute measures to promote new business startups and strengthen existing ones through targeted interventions.

The government has approved a flagship program on startup and CSI with an outlay of Nu 1.2bn. The program will target export of 20 CSI products, support 1,050 business entities, additional jobs and establish a business startup center.

“We will also revise the Foreign Direct Investment policy and CSI policy to enable investment and private sector growth,” said Lyonchhen.

Employment: With a small population, high importance is accorded to engage every working age Bhutanese productively. The government aims to strive to reduce youth unemployment from the present 15% to less than 6.5% in the next five years.

Towards that, besides creating employment opportunities in different sectors of the economy, education and skills are also being aligned to fit job demands.

Mines and minerals: The sector could play a big role in revenue generation and employment creation. The government will streamline the sector and ensure that its benefits are shared equitably by all sections of the society.

Taxations: Having a robust taxation system is fundamental to a vibrant economy. The government will streamline the present taxation system in keeping with its pledge of narrowing the gap. The present taxation system will be enhanced to ensure fairness and transparency with minimal administrative burden on the tax payers.

Governance: The government will strengthen existing taxation systems to ensure accountability and delivery of public services agencies. “We will look into improving cost effectiveness of public expenditure and especially look into issues of poor quality in public construction and procurement,” Lyonchhen said.

Legislation: “We are aware that during the opening ceremony of the third session of the second Parliament on May 16, 2014, His Majesty cautioned the members about passing too many laws in haste,” Lyonchhen said.

His Majesty cited examples of nations where people have lost faith in law and confidence in democracy due to proliferation of laws which are hastily enacted, poorly implemented causing social difficulties for the people.

Following this concern, the government will amend Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) rules and regulations to ensure that only laws that are genuinely required are drafted by the concerned government agencies.

Public services:

The government has, through the digital Drukyul flagship program, allocated Nu 2.5bn to make public services convenient and easily accessible.

Private Sectors:

The governmnet will work with the private sector to help it flourish by providing clear avenues for participating in building a strong economy. The CSI and FDI policies are being revised and we are looking at the Bhutan Economic Forum for Innovative Transformation (BEFIT) as an important forum to expand investment climate in the country.

Private sector development committee has been established with its secretariat operating from BCCI in July.

Foreign relations

The government will further strengthen Bhutan –India relations.

With imminent graduation from the LDC group in 2023, it will also pursue economic diplomacy to explore mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral partnerships.

Efforts to nurture existing partnerships and establish new ties and diplomatic relations shall be explored.

Environment:  

To address the growing waste management problem in urban centers and the public threats that it can create, the government has approved a National waste management flagship program under the 12th FYP.

Footprints of National Day:

The government has approved the implementations of a special “Footprints of National Day” program.

The program will support critical high impact development projects in dzongkhags chosen to host the National Day celebration each year.

A total of five dzongkhags in the 12th plan will receive support through this program.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu

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