During the Meet the Press session of the government with the local media, the Prime Minister and the cabinet ministers addressed media queries which majorly revolved around the theme of ‘how things have wrapped up’ at the end of five years.
“The JYT Phenomenon”
The Prime Minister in response to this question from The Bhutanese on how much influence individual leadership would have in the 2013 race in retrospect with the 2008 Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) victory, said that the people (electorates) when they vote, look at the leaders to place their confidence and trust.
In 2008 DPT won 45 of 47 seats in parliament and it was hugely credited to the leadership role played by the Lyonchhen, at that time as the DPT president.
Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley said it is the capability and the contributions that each leader has done and it was not ‘JYT phenomenon’. He said next time around it could it could be something like the YZ Phenomenon (Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba).
The PM also responded to the media’s query that had the government taken credit of what has already been formulated and established in Five Year Plans (FYP).
The PM clarified to the house filled with reporters that the major chunk of the work had been done by his government only – Ministers like Yeshey Zimba, Khandu Wangchuk, Wangdi Norbu and Zangley Drukpa.
It was made the mandate of all the cabinet ministers to bring in the country the funds for developments as they went out to tighten friendships. He said “developments need funds and we have brought the funds from outside.”
Consultation with people
“This is a government that has always consulted the people,” assured the Lyonchhen.
The PM narrated laws of the country that were amended after consultations and thorough discussions with the people.
“In the larger interest of the nation, sometimes unpopular and hard decisions had to be made,” said the PM.
The Tobacco Act was seen as being too harsh and government took up this concern, discussed it several times, and amended the act. Pedestrian Day, once a week was changed to once a month.
The Tourism policy prepared by the government was almost entirely trashed and the suggestions and recommendations of the tour operators and other stakeholders generated at the town hall meeting fully were incorporated.
The Constituency Development Grant was withdrawn after criticism and the State funding was put on the backburner after certain people felt it was not in the best interest of democracy.
Nu 430 million McKinsey
Lyonchhen said that McKinsey helped Bhutan in many other manifestations that had no direct benefits but long term benefits and made Bhutan realize the ‘tight-loose’ principles. It also changed the bureaucracy of Bhutan.
An important work of Mckinsey was in helping to launch an initiative for Accelerating Bhutan’s Socio-Economic Development (ABSD) in achieving the aspirations to make Bhutan a self-reliant nation by 2020 and establish a sound foundation for democracy.
Lyonchhen remarked: “Mckinsey has taught us to dream big and acquire it.”
The Lyonchhen also assured the people of the country that Bhutan has all the possibility to become a donor country by 2020 after all the hydropower plants are completed. Bhutan has also donated what it could to other countries at times of natural calamities and for developments he said.
The PM said that McKinsey has advised the government to be ‘end result-oriented’.
Message to the media
The Lyonchhen in the address to the press said that the government pulled all strings possible to be transparent and the media played its role well. He said the media helped government or made the government even ‘more transparent’. To let media play its watchdog function and to ensure transparency, the government initiated ‘Meet the Press’ where all the cabinet ministers led by PM answered any questions that were unanswered or unsatisfied.
Communications Minister, Nanda Lal Rai nodded and claimed the media has been faring well and the ministry is doing ‘all it could to make the media strong’.
People in the camps in Nepal
Repatriation has been a ‘royal prerogative’ and of recent, 121 individuals received citizenship from His Majesty the King.
“One of the saddest situation to be is stateless and I am sad about it,” said the PM.
The state of the nation report states, “Those who have resettled in the eight countries send heart-warming reports of having found a new and dignified life of hope and confidence in the future. The total number of people who have been resettled is 75,261 as of December 2012, with 63,543 in the US alone.”
Puran Gurung / Thimphu