Plan talks to be held in Delhi today and tomorrow

A press release issued by the Foreign Minister said that plan talks between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of India will be held in New Delhi on 27 and 28 February 2013. The Bhutanese delegation will be led by Mr. Yeshey Dorji, Foreign Secretary and will include Dasho {Dr} Sonam Tenzin, Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, Dasho Sonam Tshering, Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Mr. Lam Dorji, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Karma Tshiteem, Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission and other senior officials of the Royal Government.

During the Talks, the two sides will review the progress of the 10 five year plan. The Government of India’s commitment to the L0th FYP is Rs. 34 billion which is about 70% of the total external assistance Bhutan received. This excludes non-planned activities such as in hydropower. The projects implemented under GoI’s assistance in the 1Oth FYF are progressing well and most of them are expected to be completed on time.

The other important issue to be discussed will be on the RGoB’s request to the GoI for support to the draft 11th FYP.

According to the release the Government of lndia has generously supported Bhutan’s development since the first Five Year Plan in 1961. The release also said that the remarkable socio-economic progress that Bhutan has achieved in the last five decades is due to the unstinted support and cooperation of the Government of lndia.

Bhutan’s 11th five year plan as per the latest information is approximately Nu 234 billion according to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC)

This figure is also based on the discussion with Bhutan’s developmental partners most of whom wanted to continue supporting Bhutan until 2020, the year by which Bhutan’s aims to become self sufficient.The only developmental partner who is reducing its level of support and transitioning more into commercial cooperation is Denmark,

However, as the biggest donor and developmental partner, India’s contribution will be important in achieving the 11th plan target.

The process of formulating the 11th plan had started from the first quarter of 2012 which included consultation between households and gewogs that feed into central agencies and also between ministries and constitutional bodies.

The broad visions and overall objective of the plan will be self reliance, inclusive growth, green and socio economic development.

Under self reliance the focus would be on investing in key sectors which would meet the triple conditions of employment for Bhutanese, revenue for the government and profit for entrepreneurs. There would be strong focus on economic sectors including agriculture. There would be efforts to better tap the opportunities of the 10,000 MW. The government will focus in helping the private sector in key areas like Agro processing, manufacturing,   Special Economic Zones and industrial estates based mainly on the Economic Development Plan and also encourage ongoing projects like the Education City.

In terms of socio-economic development the core development strategy will be in achieving MDG, reducing poverty and improving health and education.

The MDG goals end by 2014 while the plan continues till 2018. Going beyond MDG Bhutan is looking at MDG plus targets which will be comparable to more developed countries.

In the 11th plan poverty will be redefined in a more multi-dimensional manner that means more enhanced minimum living standards consisting of both food and noon food.

The 11th plan will also focus on equitable spread of developmental activities especially in the south and east of the country. The plan will bring in government investments like institutions or projects in these areas.A major part of the physical investment will be in the roads in terms of the east-west highways in the south, complete ongoing ones like Gyelpozhing-Nanglam and upgrade the national highways grid.Investments will also be made to improve airports and air connectivity to spread tourism and continuing investment would be made in ICT.

In what could be a unique development the 11th plan will be Bhutan’s first green plan.The 11th plan on the lines of GNH will also aim to further strengthen Bhutanese cultural identity by investing in repairing old Dzongs and also building new ones. Soft investment will also be made in other areas like promoting Dzongkha etc.

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