Changes are coming – in big and small ways.
The fact that Bhutanese contractors did not have a share in the hydropower pie was an issue much wrangled about by Bhutanese entrepreneurs who aimed to make it big in the area.
But the government had closed the doors of opportunity which a small group of local contractors decided to wrest open.
Recently, around 35 contractors jointly decided to form a company to undertake hydropower construction works and 17 of them registered themselves for the company.
Taking up the gauntlet of forming a hydropower construction company when Druk Green Power Corporation itself failed to do so is a commendable feat.
It shows that the Bhutanese are coming of age when it comes to planning, sorting out big issues and launching on sophisticated entrepreneurial plans.
Several requests were put up to the government by local contractors to involve them in mega projects like the Punatsangchhu II and Mangdechhu so that they could at least gain experience which is an important criterion for the tendering process but the government denied them on the same grounds.
After failing to convince the government, the Bhutanese contractors finally decided to form a consortium and work on projects for which they have the required human resource and technical capacity.
Now, the new company will soon be conducting pre-feasibility surveys which the government had allowed only to Indian companies so far.
In addition, the private sector can now own hydropower projects in the sense that according to the draft renewable energy policy, private firms will be allowed to construct and own small, mini and micro hydro projects.
This shows that the government is now encouraging the private sector to develop and the fact that it is just spreading its wings calls for stronger government support.
The DPT government has received criticism from several quarters saying that the private sector is moving at a snail’s pace. Civil servants, in a recent survey conducted by the Institute for Management Studies, rated DPT’s performance on private sector development at 49.5% while it received the highest performance rating of 79% on foreign relations among others like employment, education, handling youth issues, etc.
It was one of the lowest performance overviews which says a lot.
But now, with such initiatives being taken to promote the fledgling private sector, and especially with its array into hydropower, the word “responsibility” also figures big for local entrepreneurs.
They now have to prove themselves worthy in a field where there are already established stalwarts and giants.
Here cooperation should be the key word – between the government and the private sector. The common end is a well planted hydropower project network and thus a stable, self-reliant, self-sustaining economy.
This can be achieved and should be.