His Majesty highlights national challenges

The King urged citizens to work in unity and to confront the challenges, and also acknowledged civil servants across the country for their service to the nation

While the limelight of the National Day this year was on civil servants, His Majesty the King, in his address to the nation on the important occasion, highlighted the country’s rapid achievements over the years and also underlined some setbacks that have to be confronted together.

Thousands of people filled the Changlimithang stadiumto celebrate the day, especially to attend His Majesty’s speech and seize the opportunity to meet the King and the Gyaltsuen up-close.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, members of the Royal Family, and Cabinet Ministers received His Majesty the King at the stadium.

“It is the day when all Bhutanese feel and identify themselves as one people in this beloved nation that is blessed by Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, and where the successive monarchs have dedicated their lives and service to bring peace and happiness,” His Majesty said in the opening remarks.

His Majesty also reminded the nation of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s selfless service, contribution and guidance to the country and people.

“I would like to acknowledge the gracious presence of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in our midst and pay the country and people’s collective tribute to him for the immeasurable achievements during his highly progressive reign for 34 years,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty said, “The stability and sovereignty of the nation, and the well-being and peace that we enjoy in this generation are founded on the sacrifice and diligence of our successive monarchs and forefathers. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for what we are today.” His Majesty said that the country must, similarly, leave a worthy legacy for the future generations.

“The people of Bhutan are the jewel-ornament of the country and they should be cherished and valued,” His Majesty said.

The King also drew attention to the many milestones achieved over the years while also highlighting some limitations that need to be worked out in harmony and as a whole nation.

“ Our country has experienced fast pace of progress in all spheres of life. There has been rapid coverage in the network of roads, mobile telephone connection, schools, and other infrastructure facilities bringing a better quality of life to the people. Such changes have occurred within a short period of time. The strides we have made are exceptional, given our isolation, low initial base, and lack of resources,” His Majesty said.

Despite great achievements and strong foundations, the King also spoke on the emerging economic issues. His Majesty shared his deep concerns on the rising national debt, the unemployment situation, the rupee shortage, trade deficit, and high inflation rate.

“The national debt currently stands at Nu 100bn and is growing. During the 10th five-year plan, interest payments alone were about Nu 9bn. During the 11th plan period, interest payment is estimated to be about Nu 15bn,” His Majesty noted.

His Majesty, however, was confident in the countrymen’s ability to overcome the constraints. “I am confident that we will stand together to serve our nation, so that our future will continue to bask in the radiant sunshine of peace and prosperity. As stewards of the wellbeing of future generations, we will similarly leave a worthy legacy. I appeal to the current generation to renew your pledge to the creation of a better and stronger nation.”

“It is neither a case of the Bhutanese lacking capability nor a case of insufficiency of resources to overcome these challenges. The Bhutanese people must rise to the occasion and shoulder greater responsibilities. Yet the road ahead is steep and the responsibilities are immense. The main responsibility of addressing the challenges goes to the government. The new government, which is capable and caring, is equally concerned about these problems,” His Majesty said.

“A King should tell the truth to his people and I do not conceal anything from you, my people. In all honesty, let me share some thoughts with you today. If we take a close look, we, Bhutanese, are good at writing plans, speaking well, and expounding ideas. But, implementation falls short of commitments. There is gap between commitments made and output delivered. We are not able to deliver results of expected quality in a timely manner,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty also said, “In the recent past, it has become evident that institutions in our country are all asserting ‘independence’ and seeking greater ‘autonomy’ at the expense of overall harmony. There is limited communication and coordination among agencies and this invariably leads to lack of coherence. The government has major problems to address and many national goals to fulfil as it embarks on the Eleventh Plan. Our people and I shall be most happy and gratified if the government can address these issues.”

His Majesty also shared his concerns on the country’s unemployment problem. “Unemployment is a growing concern for everybody. Parents wish to see their children educated and then gainfully employed. Youth aspire to complete their education and find jobs, to have the satisfaction of finding a source of livelihood. Expectations and hopes of our youth should be fulfilled by creating meaningful jobs.”

His Majesty touched upon the country’s rising import statistics and expenditures. “As examples of our rising expenditure, our country imports fuel worth Nu 6bn. In addition, Nu 10bn is spent annually on import of raw materials and construction materials. Moreover, in spite of considerable investment in the agriculture sector, we are still dependent on food imports, and food import amounts to Nu 7bn per year.”

His Majesty said, despite substantial revenue from hydropower, it wouldn’t be enough to address the country’s growing needs. “Hydropower is considered as the nation’s most precious resource t belongs to all the people. focus has been to establish many hydropower projects possible, to generate eno revenue to become self-reli With the development of society and its needs, revenu from hydropower alone are not sufficient to finance them,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty also commended the civil servants across the country, many of whom were awarded special recognition in the form of medals and certificates, few days ahead of the national day.

“The civil servants have served in 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs and thousands of villages. This award is in recognition of their service and dedication. It is also a beacon to inspire the youth to serve the Tsa-Wa-Sum. The award will not only make the recipients happy. For their children too, it will be a memento of their parent’s long service that will motivate and inspire them to work for noble causes, beyond themselves, the Tsa-Wa-Sum,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty said there is hardly any time for complacency and that people need to surmount several challenges the country faces. “While addressing these challenges, civil servants have an indispensable role in supporting the government. Hence the award is not only to thank our civil servants. It is also to repose our trust and confidence that they will work even harder,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty said, “Work done should commensurate with the numbers of employees; responsibilities should commensurate with work done; results must commensurate with responsibilities. Nothing should be disproportionate. As we embark on the task that lies ahead, our civil servants possess the requisite knowledge, skills and experience. The main responsibility of the civil servants is to serve the people in an efficient, timely and caring manner.”

His Majesty also reminded new challenges ahead with change in times. “Whether it is the King or the government, as time passes, there will be constant change. At the end, a compact, efficient and strong civil service is the key to ensure the nation’s present and future welfare, security and people’s wellbeing. I urge all our civil servants to work harder than ever, in the service of our nation.”

“ The only aspiration and prayer in my whole life is to fulfill the hopes and expectation of our people, and to redeem the profound faith reposed in me by my Father to serve our nation. I have always received unremitting trust and support of all the people since my youth, and I renew my pledge to serve our people with the noblest of intentions,” His Majesty concluded.

It was sunny and warm day at the Changlimithang stadium that was packed to the brim. The people across the country watched the event on live telecast in their homes. Other dzongkhags also marked the day with various programs and some even played His Majesty’s speech live on radio for the gatherings.

While the crowd was treated to various festive dances and programs, many had the opportunity to meet His Majesty the King and the Gyaltsuen, and members of the Royal Family up-close as Their Majesties walked the stadium galleries during the celebrations.

The grand celebration of the day also saw various individuals being awarded special recognitions by His Majesty the King.

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