Bhutan has done a tremendous job at reducing extreme poverty: Chief Economist, WB

The World Bank (WB) group’s senior Vice President and Chief Economist, Dr Kaushik Basu, visited Bhutan to learn about the country’s unique development experience, the rapid progress made in reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity and opportunities.

A news release from WB says that the Chief Economist visited Bhutan as the country continues to make progress in reducing poverty and achieving development goals, driven through increasing agricultural-commercialization, expansion of rural roads, and revenues from hydroelectric investments.

Dr Kaushik Basu met with the local journalists also, and talked about the development challenges and opportunities for Bhutan, and reforms that the country could explore on December 30 in Thimphu.

“Bhutan has done a tremendous job at reducing extreme poverty and has harnessed its unique model to promote inclusive development. It has, in fact, reduced extreme poverty from 47% in 1981 to less than 3% in 2011, among the fastest in the world,” Dr Kaushik Basu said.

He also said that Bhutan, although a tiny country, has done many things which are exemplary in the world. He said that there are lessons to be learned from Bhutan in reducing poverty. “One particular dimension where the World Bank is extremely engaged, which is people who live in extreme poverty, in extremely poor conditions. There is an effort in the World Bank to bring about policies around the world to bring down poverty,” he added.

He pointed out that Bhutan and WB share the same concerns on climate change and maintaining the environment. He said that in the coming years, there will be many areas of collaboration between Bhutan and WB, which will strengthen and enrich Bhutan and the rest of the world.

Dr Basu also pointed out that employment levels in Bhutan, where youth unemployment at 9.67%, is high and troubling, but he said there are several rich and industrialized countries in the world where the unemployment rate is worse. “I feel what Bhutan needs to do is build on its strengths which are already there. For instance, hydro-power it is a great strength of the country,” Dr Basu said.

He said the other strength lies in the human capital, where workers can be trained to work in skilled areas, like education, IT and data work, and tourism.

During his visit, Dr Kaushik Basu visited the WB supported urban development projects and encouraged students from across South Asia at the 11th South Asia Economics Students’ Meet to be catalysts for greater regional cooperation and global peace.

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