The 14th Round Table Meeting (RTM) will take place from 12-14 March in the capital next week.
The foreign minister, Lyonpo Tandin Dorji shared that the RTM is the highest forum for policy dialogue between Bhutan and its development partners, donors, bilateral and multilateral agencies to come together and the government accords the highest importance to this event. “The 14th RTM will be an opportunity for us to share our development experiences and to apprise our development partners on our 12th Five Year Plan and its priorities.”
Lyonpo Tandin Dorji said that although the government wanted to change the format of the RTM this year, it cannot be realized as everything had to be rushed. “However, we are going to make substantial changes in the RTM that is going to be conducted next week. We cannot afford to always seek grants from our donors every year; it is high time we refrain from such practice.”
The foreign minister said that Bhutan now needs to move from ‘aid’ to ‘trade’ and look for more partnerships. He said Bhutan’s donors and partners are more curious and interested to see what Bhutan can offer this time to them and not the other way round like the before.
“For the first time, there is going to be a panel discussion to deliberate on challenges and opportunities faced by Bhutan. Even the foreign ministry has changed the way our foreign policy will function—we are no more going to pursue political diplomacy, instead we are now planning to move towards economic diplomacy to see the economic opportunities that we can derive, not just through our policies but through engagement of our missions,” said Lyonpo Tandi Dorji.
Talks are ongoing with the private sectors and if they can come up with convincing proposals, the government reassured that they are ready to seek foreign partners and help them. The 14th RTM will be held by the government in partnership with the United Nations.
For the first time ever, Bhutan will also be honored with the presence of Mr. Achim Steiner who is the Administrator of UNDP. “Just his mere presence in the country will bring immense goodwill to our country. Many other partners are simply excited to attend the RTM with his presence around. It would be a great privilege for us to have Mr. Steiner, who will also co-chair the RTM along with me.”
The foreign minister said that so far 20 multi-lateral and 17 bilateral agencies have given their confirmation to attend the RTM next week, all the while continuing to receive more confirmations in a day. Around 120 dignitaries are expected to be present during the RTM, according to the foreign minister.
“We are also for the first time ever, engaging, Civil Service Organization and invited representatives from all the political parties to sit with us during the RTM as our way of engaging all the stakeholders,” said Lyonpo Tandin Dorji.
Lyonpo Tandin said the socio-economic progress that Bhutan has achieved today would not have been possible without the generous support and assistance of our development partners. “Therefore, the 14th RTM will also be an opportunity for us to express our gratitude and appreciation to our development partners for the support and assistance rendered to us over the decades.”