The government also presented its 11th FYP at the meeting to ensure better alignment of development assistance with national priorities
Many of the development partners representing more than 60 partner organizations at the 12th Round Table Meeting (RTM) were impressed by Bhutan’s achievements over the few decades and have further expressed substantial assistance, especially for the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP).
Chaired by the UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, Haoliang Xu, the government presented its 11th FYP at the two-day RTM, which has been successful in convincing the donor agencies and countries.
Foreign Affairs Minister Rinzin Dorje told local reporters during a press conference on Thursday that the meeting will provide an opportunity for the Government of Bhutan to assess the progress being made towards achieving national development progress goals as well as international development goals, such as millennium development goals (MDGs).
He added that the 12th RTM and launch of the 11th FYP will serve as a platform for achieving key national development milestones by 2020.
“Several donors have expressed to increase their support significantly over the next few years. Everyone expressed their commitment to provide support,” Haoliang Xu said. “Many of them has committed for long-term support,” he added.
Haoliang Xu also said, “The government is very open, very straight forward, and very business-like and open for constructive criticisms.” He said the meeting laid down good impressions on many development partners and, “If the Prime Minister and government officials are willing to talk about issues, it can result in productive discussions.”
Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) Secretary Karma Tshiteem said the meeting, in addition to the further expression of support, will also help to explore avenues for financing for new development partners.
He revealed that some of the development partners have committed to triple their support to Bhutan.
On the Bhutanese economy, Haoliang Xu said that it is primarily dependent on one single sector and suggested it must be diversified by further enhancing the private sector participation with focus on quality and higher productivity. “There is also an urgent need to generate decent jobs, especially for youth as this could affect the social fabric overtime,” he added.
About Bhutan graduating from the rank of least developed countries (LDC) in the next few years, Haoliang Xu said, “Bhutan government can count on the support of UN development system to help frame this smooth transition strategy for graduation from LDCs.”
“Bhutan is on its way to be model for how to achieve MDG targets”, he said.
Haoliang Xu also applauded the country’s smooth democratic transition and committed that within next five years, the UN-Bhutan One Programme will enhance its support towards democratic elections, assuring to provide support financially, as well as technically.
The 11th FYP has a budget outlay of Nu 214bn and Nu 45bn has been committed by the Government of India (GoI). Haoliang Xu said the plan is ambitious. “There’s lot to be done in 11th FYP, as it is very ambitious, and requires every one’s effort to really achieve it,” he said.
During the opening session of the RTM, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgye expressed that the 11th FYP is, by far, the most ambitious plan and said, “We will be able to meet the entire recurring expenditure from our own resources, but we will need support from developing partners to finance most for the capital investments.”
“The 11th plan states clear outcomes and targets that the government must achieve over the next five years, in order to realize the objective of self-reliance and inclusive green social economic development,” the PM said.
About 80 delegates from 23 multilateral and 20 bilateral development partner organizations attended the 12th RTM which included presentations and discussions on the 11th FYP, challenges and priorities, macro fiscal outlook, and economic development roadmap.
The first RTM in Bhutan was held in the early 1980s. Routinely, RTMs in Bhutan are held twice in the course of a five year plan, at the beginning and in the mid-term. The previous RTM took place in Thimphu from September 1-2, 2011.