As per the State of The Nation (SOTN) Report, the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) and its accompanying 10-year strategy are key tools for reaching the government’s goals. It is mentioned that the government is placing a strong emphasis on supporting private businesses.
“We acknowledge that past efforts in this direction have been met with doubt and have had limited impact. Looking forward, we’re dedicated to reducing government involvement in the economy and encouraging more private sector participation,” said the SOTN Report.
A significant step in this direction is the establishment of the Government to Business Service Centre (GovBiz) Service Center in August 2023, which is the first move to achieve the objectives of the 13th FYP for business-related services.
GoVBiz aims to serve as a one-stop platform for all business-related services, simplifying government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), and government-to-government (G2G) services. Its main goal is to streamline the process, making it more efficient and cost-effective, thus saving time for applicants.
The initiative is being carried out to foster the growth and advancement of the private sector with the focus on engaging the youth in the private sector, enhance the ease of doing business, and accelerate the overall private sector development.
The government is also offering assistance in terms of employment opportunities, entrepreneurial support, career guidance, and labour market information. These efforts aim to boost economic growth, empower the younger generation, and develop a skilled workforce.
In a bid to streamline trade and improve the ease-of-doing-business, the Department of Trade in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority, the Department of Revenue and Customs, and the Department of Industry developed and implemented an online platform called Bhutan TradeFin Net (BTFN) has been introduced.
This system facilitates cross-border trade by handling tasks such as issuing import licenses, certificates of origin, import/export registrations for India, and banking applications for remittances. This integration ensures seamless data flow and information exchange between relevant authorities.
Moreover, trade and industry regulations were recently revamped in August 2023 to create a more conducive environment for the private sector. The reforms aim to simplify licensing procedures and encourage business growth.
Bhutan is also investing in trade infrastructure to support economic expansion. Projects like Pasakha, Gelephu, and Nganglam dry ports are currently under construction, targeting key challenges in trade facilitation like cargo handling, storage, and warehousing.
The introduction of the ‘Brand Bhutan’ and ‘Grown in Bhutan’ for select products is expected to boost exports, with several items already receiving these prestigious certifications.
To assist entrepreneurs in accessing vital trade information, the government introduced the Trade Information Portal (TIP), serving as a valuable resource for international market deals.
Additionally, Bhutan is actively pursuing preferential trade agreements with neighboring countries like Nepal and Thailand, while also enforcing agreements on traffic-in-transit and inland waterways with Bangladesh, offering new opportunities for private sector growth.
CSI market outlets were established in the USA and Australia, costing Nu 550 million. These outlets offer 100+ products for Bhutanese living abroad. Additionally, a CSI market in Paro promotes 300+ products for both local and international tourists.
Furthermore, the ongoing establishment of a Common Facility Centre (CFC) in Thimphu and Tsirang will provide essential equipment and machinery for CSIs, including packaging, drying, dehydrating, sealing, grinding, and more. The government further plans to raise the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP from 6 percent in 2021 to 15 percent by 2029, grow foreign direct investment from Nu 43.3 billion to Nu 100 billion by 2029, increase private sector investment from 40 percent to over 50 percent by 2029, aiming for 60 percent by 2034 and decrease the national trade deficit to 20 percent of GDP by 2029.
These efforts are contributing to a flourishing private sector and propelling Bhutan’s economic development in the upcoming 13th FYP.