Broad pro-poor policy measures to bridge the gap

Poverty eradication and inequality reduction is one of the National Key Result Area (NKRA) included in 12th FYP. This NKRA aims to improve living conditions of the general population and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.

In addition, it also aims to eradicate poverty in all its forms through improvements in health, education and living standard. This also aims in creating an inclusive society by reducing various forms of inequality such as gaps in income and consumption and access to critical services such as health and education.

Poverty

Currently, Bhutan has managed to bring down incidence of both income and multidimensional poverty as a result of broad based as well as targeted poverty reduction programs and policies implemented over successive plans.

The national poverty rate has been reduced from 23.2 percent in 2007 to 8.2 percent in 2017. Also, during the same period, rural poverty was brought down to 11.9 percent from 30.9 percent and proportion of urban poor reduced from 2 percent to 0.7 percent.

Incidence of subsistence poverty or extreme poverty stood at 1.5 percent in 2017. Multidimensional poverty was more than halved to 5.8 percent2 in 2017 from 12.7 in 20123.

In addition, 97 percent of the rural households have access to electricity and almost all households (99.5 percent) have access to improved water sources. About 92 percent of households have access to improved sanitation facilities, states the 12th FYP document.

However, despite the progress achieved, Bhutan is still confronted with the last-mile challenge of eradicating poverty in all its forms. The Bhutan Poverty Analysis Report (PAR) 2017 has found that, of the estimated surveyed population of 692,895 persons in the country, 56,855 are estimated to be poor while 10,687 are subsistence poor.

Poverty in rural areas at 11.9 percent is higher than urban areas at 0.8 percent. Of the 8.2 percent of monetary poor, 7.2 percent are not multidimensional poor and from the 5.8 percent of the multidimensional poor, 4.8 percent are not monetary poor.

Meanwhile, in order to address the challenges and achieve the NKRA, they have identified various strategies, like targeting the poor, continuation of board based social investments and implement specific policy measures.

The government will identify the most vulnerable groups and target need based interventions to increase their ability to earn income and improve their overall standard of living will be designed and implemented.

Broad based social sector programs in areas of health, education and agriculture shall be implemented by both central agencies and LGs. The focus shall be on enhancing equitable access to social services as well as pursuing improvements in overall quality of services provided.

In addition, they will also have a specific broad policy measures that are pro-poor and ensures that inequality does not increase shall be pursued. To ensure that Dzongkhags, Gewogs and Thromdes with high incidence of poverty receive adequate resources, poverty shall be used as criteria to determine resource allocation among LGs.

The National Minimum Wage Rate for the National Workforce is being reviewed. Allowances for women in rural areas during initial months of child birth shall also be explored. Initiatives like provision of free nutritious lunches for needy children in identified schools and institutes shall also be considered.

To provide equitable access, well-equipped permanent mobile medical teams offering specialist services to unreached pockets and populations will be instituted. Efforts to protect and support the informal sector will also be undertaken, states the document.

They will aims to provide income-generating opportunities for enhancing livelihood of rural communities across 20 Dzongkhags. It will sell produce through its One Gewog One Product brand. The program will be implemented by the Queen’s Project Office.

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