As the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) government marked its first year of governance on November 7, Prime Minister (Dr) Lotay Tshering, shared the achievements made in the last one year.
The government highlighted its work in strengthening the system, initiating reforms with lasting impact, working towards building the economy and uplifting the lower sections of the society. The focus was on health and education, as evident in most of the decisions made by the government. Time was also invested in addressing unemployment.
The Prime Minister said that getting to serve the nation and its people brings much excitement and happiness. “From trying to figure out the place of work to getting to know the people and the system, every single day held a lot of discovery and learning experience,” Lyonchhen added.
He said, “Everyday, in everything we did, our motivation was to make a difference to the lives of our people and we promised change for the better, so we worked towards it. In this one year, we have made conscious efforts in ensuring people are not divided along political lines.”
Lyonchhen said that it is important to analyze the current scenario of the country if they are to start with any work as careful considerations must be made.
“There is a lot which needs to be done and we are happy that most of them are doable. Our country got the opportunity to change the little things which couldn’t be changed as of now, and we are excited to clear up everything in the future,” Lyonchhen said.
The unemployment issue in the country is the most serious issue today, he said, adding that the number of children getting enrolled in the school and number of students graduating increases every year.
With that, if the unemployment issue is not resolved at this stage, it would be difficult in future, making it difficult to live independently, he added.
60 percent of the graduates are jobless in the country which is more concerning, he said. “There are jobs available in the market, however, the youths do not want to take up that job as they are mostly manual jobs (construction sites, farming, etc). They are right to not take up those jobs because those are the jobs for those who have less qualification or no qualification at all,” he added.
He said that they need more of students opting for TTI or TVET rather than graduation to meet the skills required in the job market.
“If we have more students taking up TTI/TVET then the number of unemployed can be addressed at a larger scale. Everything can be done easily with development and technologies. Just few days ago, we have decided to move TVET out of the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources to function as an autonomous body,” he said.
Students can take up TVET/TTI right after class XII and a clear path has also been drawn for various certificate, diploma, degree and even master’s programs after Class XII. This means students soon completing Class XII need not necessarily opt for courses offered by Royal University of Bhutan, said the PM.
Lyonchhen said that to have a good quality education, there needs to be the best quality teachers to impart better knowledge.
For that matter, a generous pay hike was given to the teachers, much higher than to the other civil servants. In addition, the stipends of the teacher trainees in Paro and Samtse College are also increased.
“I have a hope that the quality of education and teachers will improve if we focus and give importance to the trainees in both the colleges and on their subjects,” he added.
He also said that the country has reached a situation whereby a person with no knowledge in ICT, even though they have the conventional literacy, would be considered as having no digital literacy.
Knowing the importance of ICT, he said that they have mobilized Nu 1 billion to the education ministry for a flagship program on instituting ICT in all the schools in the country.
Lyonchhen said, “Everyone needs ICT literacy, and it is all about hardcore ICT education. If they get familiarized with computer coding and cyber security from class III or IV then I believe they can make their living no matter what subject they take.”
Lyonchhen also emphasized on achievement made in tax reformation, and said, “Government has been working for months to introduce a major tax reform in the country and following series of presentations, reviews and inputs from experts, the government is in the process of preparing papers that would go as Tax Reforms Bill in the Third Session of the Parliament this winter.”
He also said that the need to relook at the tax system has also become imperative in the face of Bhutan’s graduation from Least Developed Country category by the end of the 12th Plan. “A stronger tax system would help government mobilize additional domestic revenue. Ultimately, the government is motivated to embrace taxes and tax bands that would recognize the hard work of Bhutanese who are doing well, while supporting those in the lower income group,” he added.
Likewise, Lyonchhen also highlighted achievements made in agriculture sector, economy, health, foreign relation, private sector, works, communication, etc.
“In the quest to bring about change for the better, we also come under pressure. Not all decisions go down well with people and not all popular decisions are good,” he said.
He said, “But dropping the idea altogether, or giving up the effort is not an answer. It would simply mean we were insincere in our pursuit and conviction. Ours is a humble government. That does not mean we will rush decisions, or pull stunts to show what we have done. Most of us in the Cabinet come from humble backgrounds. If anyone can relate to problems and challenges of our people, we come the closest.”