Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) held a press conference on Friday to formally introduce the party’s slogan to the people of Bhutan for the 2018 elections, which is: ‘Narrowing the Gap’.
“The ‘Gap’ in DNT’s slogan explicitly implies income inequality between the different sections of Bhutanese society. The word ‘Narrowing’ suggests the impossible nature of closing income gap, but it can be equitably narrowed. Thus, the founders of DNT, after acknowledging and understanding this social and economic issue decided to come up with the slogan,” said Doctor Tandi Dorji, the party’s media spokesperson.
The spokesperson said that their slogan was not developed overnight but is the culmination of wide consultation with the people from all the 205 gewogs, with the party members, and more importantly, he said that it is based and backed up on extensive research the party carried out over a period of time on the data and indicators available from various reports.
“An increase in Gini coefficient is a serious issue indicating that the economic development of the country has had no uniform benefit. The gap in income has widened. This gap has widened more in PDP’s tenure than in DPT’s, when economic growth was smaller. Therefore, Nyamrup’s focus on Narrowing the Gap cannot be timelier,” said Dr Tandi.
He added that the party will take into consideration the widening income inequality in the country and will direct every part of their manifesto in narrowing the gap with their strategic plans in place. The party has come up with the first draft of their manifestos and it will be finalized very soon.
“Narrowing the income gap is measurable and doable. Coming from Trashigang to Thimphu for medical service has cost implications. Most of the services that are available in the capital are not accessible in other parts of the country and we aim to change that. Likewise, education has indirect cost too and it all boils down to income gap.”
The party spokesperson said that when they say narrowing the gap, the wealthy sections of the society construes and expressed their concerns saying that the party is planning on stripping them off their wealth through their strategy by creating a conducive environment for growth only for the middle and lower middle-income groups. “We are accused of bringing in ideas of communism and of being socialists too often by the wealthy sections of the society. But that is certainly not the case, if people become rich because of their talents, hard works, knowledge or inherent skills that is where we want to support individuals to further grow rich. At the moment we are of view that the wealth is concentrated in the hands of few people because of the discrepancy in our policies like the mining sector. And Nyamrup believes we can narrow the gap by pushing up poor and middle-class but without pulling down rich -all in Nyamrup Spirit.”
Although the party is yet to finalize and officially present their manifestos to the people of Bhutan, DNT said that they have strategic measures in place to address youth unemployment issues in the country. “The serving Prime Minister in his blog, accused the then DPT government of sending youths overseas for unemployment and said that that it would be a sad move if we have to send our youths to work overseas. But that is just what the current government is doing. While I won’t say that the government should not send the youths overseas, but DNT would rather have them send for more professional opportunities,” said Dr Tandi.
DNT will adopt two broad approaches in order to achieve their objective of narrowing the gap. Firstly, they aim to provide equal opportunities for all and secondly, develop and implement policies that are favorable to lower the middle-income groups.
The party members expressed that DNT aims for the middle and lower-middle income groups to grow faster economically in the next five years so that the income gap decreases, which in turn will have a positive effect in narrowing gaps in other areas as well.
“To do that we need to provide equal opportunities for all and develop and implement policies that are fair. There are many examples currently where equal opportunities do not exist in the employment sector, trade and business licensing to name a few and of incongruent policies restricting bar licenses, unbalanced taxes, fiscal incentives among many others,” said the party release.
“Secondly, anything emerging from a person’s talent, idea, innovation, capability, creativity, or through value addition should be supported. DNT believes in building and supporting talent by giving exclusive license and protecting talent so that they prosper and government benefits from income tax. In continuation of the 2013 Nyamrup pledges, we will pursue the ‘mi-ser thoblam chathrim’ which proposed that each citizen should be given an equal share of the country’s natural resources,” stated a press release from the party.
Given the opportunity, DNT’s aim in its five-year tenure is to study the impact on the lives of the people from the policies and programs that have been enacted in addressing income inequality and narrowing the gap. “We have not seen either of the elected governments study and measure the impacts of the services and programs that they introduced during their tenure on the lives of the people,” said Dr Tandi.
DNT is the first party to declare all the 47 candidates and all the candidates are in the process of completing their familiarization tours within few days and the party is all set for the election.