The former minister of education, Norbu Wangchuk presented the review card of the government during the People’s Democratic Party’s convention last week where he provided an overall view on the 11th FYP in achieving self reliance and inclusive green socio-economic growth. Norbu Wangchuk is also the party’s Vice-President for youths. He said that it is imperative that each and every Bhutanese work towards fulfilling the aspirations of His Majesty The King which will ultimately lead to the development of the country.
PDP said that they have never neither engaged in favoritism to their supporters nor ostracized the supporters of other parties and treated every citizen equally. A woman by the name Karma Delma, from Trashi Yangtse, Bumdeling-Jamkhar constituency, who was a former supporter of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa in 2013, was presented on the stage to narrate her event which led her to join PDP after acquiring her trust in the party. “I was saddened that DPT lost during the 2013 elections and feared favoritism and boycott from their services as the supporter of another party from the then new government. However, after getting to know about BoIC, I put up a project proposal and without any partiality I received a loan of Nu. 4 mn to start a dairy project,” said Karma.
In another instance, she lost her son in the forest and she said that her son has been successfully rescued because of the helicopter service the government provided to every citizen in need. “I felt that PDP is one party that is genuinely concerned about the welfare of the common people and I then decided join PDP as a woman coordinator from my constituency.”
GDP, Rupee, Inflation and debt
PDP said that Bhutan experienced an average growth rate of 5.59 percent from 2.14 percent in 2013 to 7.99 percent in 2016, which is projected to have a growth rate of 6.88 percent in 2018.
Norbu Wangchuk also said that GDP growth rate has increased by almost 80 percent, which stands at Nu. 182.82 bn in the 11th FYP as compared to the 101.42 bn in 2013, which he said is more than they have anticipated.
The GDP per capita increased from USD 2,464 in 2013 to USD 2,879 in 2016 and it is projected to reach USD 3543 by the end of 11th FYP, which is one of the highest in the region.
The total GDP increased from Nu.105.38 bn in 2013 to Nu.148.69 bn in 2016 and is projected to reach Nu.182.82 bn in 2018.
The inflation rate has been reduced from 8.77 % in 2013 to 4.96% in 2017, wherein the prices for both food and non-food items remained stable compared to the 10th five-year plan.
The Rupee Reserve increased from INR 11.35 bn in 2013 to 18.64 bn in the 11th FYP, which is an increase of 64 percent over the period of five years.
Although the external Debt has increased in 11th FYP to 77.52 percent, the former government justified that it was mainly incurred due to Hydro-Power Projects and requested people not to panic as hydro-debts are self-liquidating. In the last four years Non-Hydro Debt was reduced for the first time to by Nu 4.02 bn. The external debt stands at Nu.170.32 bn as of 2018, out of which Nu. 133.37 bn, which is about 77.5 percent was borrowed for hydropower projects.
Reduced interest rate
The party also said that for the first time, during their tenure they were able to come up with minimum loan lending rate with RMA’s initiatives. In 2013, the minimum lending rate was 13.41 percent which has been reduced to 10.60 percent in the 11th FYP. Similarly, the interest rate on deposit was 5.25 percent in 2013 which has been increased to 5.50 percent during the current plan.
Hydro, employment and REDCL
A total budget of 2.81 bn has been allocated in solving the unemployment issues in the country which is an increase of 47 percent during the current plan as compared to the Nu. 1.87 bn in the 10th plan.
On the hydro projects, a total of Nu.211 bn was mobilized for development financing, of which Nu. 68.8 billion was mobilized as the external grants against an initial projection of Nu.58.638 bn. However, due to delay in the commissioning of hydropower projects the domestic revenue generation was Nu.140.833 billion against the projection of Nu. 150.689 bn.
Over the five years, hydropower revenue generation increased to Nu. 18.58 bn in 2017 from Nu. 15.66 bn in 2013, and the sector employed 12,727 Bhutanese.
Similarly, the mining contribution to domestic revenue increased from Nu. 238.62 mn in 2013 to Nu. 329.471 mn in 2017, while the sector employed 1,250 Bhutanese.
The CSI sector employed the highest number of Bhutanese with 84,052 in 2017 as compared to 57,469 in 2013. The tourism sector remains the highest foreign currency earning sector. The royalty contribution from international tourist increased from Nu. 902.38 mn in 2013 to Nu. 1,372.31 million in 2017, while the employment in the sector increased from 20,372 in 2013 to 29,827 as of 2017.
The party also said that they have initiated collateral free and concessional loans for rural entrepreneurs through REDCL with a minimum interest at of 4 percent. According to PDP, it is said that REDCL has received overwhelming response within a short span of two years into operation. During the convention a success story of one of the entrepreneurs as the beneficiary of erstwhile BoIC was also presented to the mass.
Agriculture, Education and Health
Against the revised approved budget of Nu. 8,341mn, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry spent Nu. 5,742 mn, which is an achievement of 69 percent during the 11th plan.
In the education sector, 60 central schools have been established. A parent of three came on the stage to express his gratitude for the central schools which helped him in educating his children without worrying about financial constraints.
MoE also in collaboration with Ministry of Health initiated the supplementation programme of Iron, De-worming and Vitamin A in schools.
In the health, 150 bedded Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema mother and child hospital and 40 bedded hospital in Dewathang are under construction whereas 40 bedded hospital in Samtse, 40 bedded hospital in Tsirang, 150 bedded central hospital in Gelephu, and 20 bedded hospital in Haa have been constructed so far. Norbu Wangchuk said that Bhutan is currently facing shortage of doctors which is expected to be addressed by the graduates from Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan.
The helicopter service has airlifted more than 270 critical patients from remote corners of the country and saved lives. Out of the 1,412 number of referral cases, 389 patients have been evacuated via helicopters.
Rural development, the party said, has been given particular emphasis and the outcomes of which were also commendable. Gewogs roads were contracted and improved, 200 gewog banks established, 100 units of free electricity given to rural areas, electric fencing was done on a big scale, there is improved agricultural productivity through mechanization and improving breeds, farm shops was introduced and decentralization of the local government took place by providing Nu.2 mn as gewog development grant.