The question was on employment but the Education Minister and the Opposition Leader clashed over the economy during the discussion
The Education Minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk during question and answer session in the National Assembly said that, the Opposition in one way or the other way is criticizing the current government by pointing out the mistakes and lapses, which the people might take it in another way.
In line with this, Lyonpo said that, “In 2013, when we took over the government and country, the economic situation was like a house which became unstable after an earthquake. People in the country will know better. There were a rupee crises and the GDP growth 2012 and 2013 was the lowest since the last 20 years.”
He also said that, “With this, the present ruling government solved the issue of rupee crises and revised the GDP rate to 6 percent from 2.5 percent. In 2013, there was a situation where the loans were frozen for private business whereby today any private business can avail loan with lower interest.”
He also emphasized on the situation of PHPA I, II and MHPA. Lyonpo said that, in 2013, the previous government was having a difficult time getting funding from GoI. “Bhutanese contractors were left without payment after completion of their work and there was no plan for additional new projects in the country,” he added.
To this, Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho, said that with the way it is going just now, it would be much worse because the impact will come at the later stage. “The national debt has already reached Nu 165 bn whereas when we left it was only 95 bn”, he added.
He also said that, all economic indicators are indicating something else and the government is claiming something else. “They are claiming that the economy is good. In the long term, the policies are disasters while in the short term, they are trying to fix issues with a dress-up of the economy just to make it look good, however, this is not sustainable”, the OL added.
OL also emphasized on employment rate in the country whereby he said that, the biggest problem is that, there is hardly any new investment, which will create jobs.
He said, “Sending all the people outside the country is a temporary measures but if you want to solve the unemployment problem, than we have to have the investments in the country, investments that generate lots of jobs”.
Citing an example, he said that, they looked at Bhutan as a nation of education whereby instead of sending the students abroad for studies, they will create the facilities here, which will create many jobs, starting from teachers to caretakers to cooks and all sorts of jobs.
In addition, “That would attract the foreign students and the idea was to create Bhutan as the destination for an education. However, there is no new investment here and we are increasing spending on education which could have generated revenue,” he said.
“The other area which we have identified Bhutan as a Meeting Information Conferences Exhibition (MICE) destination and we have comparative advantage for that because of the political stability, environment and nature”, he said.
He said, “We were in the process of actually having investment in building a big wellness center in Punakha which would further create lots of jobs within the country”.
“During our time, the present ruling government and people have leveled the IT Park as white elephant project, but now, it is the only the project which has created 600 to 700 jobs. It is not difficult for a population of 600,000 with a maximum of 20,000 to be enrolled in jobs”, he said.
Talking about the present government pledge on 100 percent job employment, he said that, “When they couldn’t do in past three and a half year, how are they supposed to give employment in the remaining one and a half years time”.
He said that, at the most, they could have some eyewash project just to show that they have created those jobs.