With only about eight months left before the elections, People’s Democratic Party affirmed during the party’s convention in the capital last week to take forward the rest of the 10 percent works with full dedication like before.
Speaking at the convention, education minister Norbu Wangchuk highlighted the party’s success in fulfilling its pledges to the people of Bhutan. “I’ve interacted with numerous people from different gewogs in the country and their impression of the party is very positive. They shared that the party has fulfilled most of pledges and brought about numerous reforms.”
Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that they have almost fulfilled 90 percent of the party’s pledges until now and the rest of the works will be completed within eight months before their term comes to an end. “We are hopeful that we’ll complete the rest of the works within these eight months and we are working really hard to meet our promises and deliver our services to the people.”
2012-13 economic crisis
The Education Minister said that the most important aspect of development in the country is the state of the economy. “When we took charge of the government in 2013, the frail economic situation then was known to everyone. The country was facing rupee crisis, banks stopped giving loans which affected the businesses, and even currency exchange rates dropped, among many other major issues.” He said that the state of the economy was completely at risk and unstable when the party took over.
Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that under PDP governance so far, the economy of the country has been heading towards a favorable map, which he shared with the gathering of more than 1000 members by giving official figures and statistics on the progresses made so far in different sectors.
Gross Domestic Product being one of core indicators of a sound economy, he said that when PDP took over, the GDP growth rate was at 3.6 percent and that the GDP growth rate stands at 7 percent right now.
He said that the second indicator is the public debt of the country which is of two types, hydro debts and non-hydro debts. “Ever since the inception of the Five Year Plan, the non-hydro debts has been increasing over the time, but I’m happy to report that the current government, for the first time ever, managed to decrease non-hydro debts which stands at Nu 34 bn down from Nu 40 bn during the 10th plan. However, hydro debts increased but it only indicates that the government is working hard to realize bigger projects through careful research. The hydro-debts are not matter of very grave concern as they are self-liquidating in nature. The non-hydro debts increased to Nu 94.7 bn in the 11th FYP from Nu 54 bn during the 10th FYP.”
Loan interest rates and PIT
Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk announced that the government lowered the interest rates for the loans through consultation with central bank and the financial institutions. Loans were slashed by significant percentages in every loan product category decreasing the loan interest rates to be paid every month.
The PDP is also counting on its Personal Income tax relief of making the first annual income of Nu 200,000 up from Nu 100,000 non taxable and increasing the children’s education deduction.
Cottage and Small Industries
The advancement in the economic stability has been attributed to the five jewels of the nation which comprises of hydropower, agriculture, tourism, small and medium enterprises and mining.
Till now 6,632 additional Cottage and Small industries have been established where around 30,374 citizens have been employed. In the agriculture sector, he declared that the results have been very favorable with the agriculture minister making tours of the whole 205 Gewogs to get better understanding of the issues.
PDP has also been pointing out its making small businesses in rural areas tax free removing the tax burden on them.
According to the records, vegetables are made available for nine months from the earlier three months, rice productions have increased to 58 percent, egg self-sufficiency has been achieved, 300 farmer groups have been established, 4,000 biogas has been introduced, green house materials have been supplied to every Chiwog in the country, and 458 kilometers of irrigation channel were constructed and 200 kilometers have been renovated.
In the hydro sector, the education minister said that except for the unexpected geological barriers, the PHPA I and II are in full swing without any budgetary issues, Mangdechhu hydroelectric project is to finish by next year, Kholongchhu,Tansibji and Ngyara Amari hydro projects areunderway. Bhutan Hydro Power Service Limited and Hydro Construction Company have also been established.
In the mining sector, he prompted that Mining Development Policy has been launched,
State Mining and Corporation Limited established, and value addition has been encouraged.
Rural Infrastructure, Education and Helicopter
Around Nu 1.721 bn has been spent on rural electrification, 800 power tillers have been supplied so far, 250 patients have been airlifted through the helicopter services which cost the government around Nu 99.7 million, 60 central schools have been established, and 2,700 kilometers of farm roads have been constructed, and 2,000 kilometers electric fence has been supplied among numerous other developments. Electricity subsidies were given to rural areas with the first 100 units free.
New candidates and President re-elected
The party also announced three new candidates during the convention; Tandin Dorji for South Thimphu, Sonam Jatso for Gangzur-Minjey constituency in Lhuentse, Dr Tobgay (PhD) for Drametse-Ngatshang in Mongar.
Moreover, the party’s president Dasho Tshering Tobgay was also re-elected for the post after securing 382 yes votes from 451 voters. MP Dorji Choden was elected as the vice-president after securing 378 yes votes out of the 449 voters.