For the development of the private sector, Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT), and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), presented distinct visions.
Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between governance and business, BTP’s strategy hinges on collaboration. The party views the private sector as a crucial partner, and to fortify this partnership, it aims to enhance collaboration between government agencies and businesses. Central to their plan is the creation of a business-friendly environment that not only encourages investment and entrepreneurship, but also safeguards the rights of workers and consumers.
A distinctive aspect of BTP’s strategy is the “Register First and Regulate Later” concept, specifically tailored for cottage and small industries. The innovative approach, coupled with simplified tax systems and filing procedures, signals a commitment to nurturing the growth of smaller enterprises. Furthermore, BTP emphasizes the importance of clear and consistent regulations, promoting competition, and striking a balance in labor regulations that protects workers’ rights while allowing businesses the flexibility to adapt.
BTP sets an ambitious goal to attract a minimum of USD 1 billion in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) by 2029. The party recognizes the significance of FDI in key sectors such as finance, manufacturing, ICT services, education, hospitality, healthcare, infrastructure, entertainment, agriculture, telecommunications, and airlines. The proposed revision of the FDI policy aims to create an environment conducive to external investments, fostering economic growth and development.
BTP acknowledges the need for a simplified taxation system to bolster economic activities. With the current tax revenue to GDP at around 13 percent, the party aims to streamline tax filing procedures and conduct a comprehensive review of taxation policies. This includes addressing issues such as double taxation on dividends, reviewing Personal Income Tax (PIT) slab exemptions, and providing strengthened tax incentives for startups.
In addressing the inefficiencies in Bhutan’s economy, DTT places a strategic focus on infrastructure projects through the proposed Infrastructure and the Project Economy Act. The Act will aim to streamline contractors through transparent bidding processes at national, Dzongkhag, and Gewog levels, empowering them to carry out construction efficiently with a focus on quality. Additionally, DTT pledges to prioritize the private sector for economic development, proposing the establishment of the Economic Development Agency (EDA).
Recognizing the critical role of infrastructure projects in Bhutan’s development, marked by initiatives like hydropower projects, DTT proposes the Infrastructure and the Project Economy Act. The act aims to streamline contractors through transparent bidding processes, ensuring efficiency and quality in project execution. It also defines capital raising for infrastructure projects and allocates risks through the concept of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
DTT prioritizes the private sector as the driver of economic development, proposing the establishment of the Economic Development Agency (EDA). This dedicated entity aims to address shortcomings in the previous Economic Development Policy (EDP) by coordinating with government agencies, improving the business ecosystem, and acting as a one-stop shop for foreign direct investment interests.
PDP’s vision encompasses a comprehensive approach to economic development, with a primary focus on attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The party proposes the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zones to create a favorable environment for FDIs. Policy revisions, ease of doing business initiatives, and banking system reforms are integral to PDP’s strategy.
PDP outlines plans to attract FDI by establishing SEZs and Autonomous Economic Areas, creating an environment conducive to attracting FDIs. The party commits to reviewing and revising policies and regulations that hinder FDI inflow, ensuring a conducive regulatory environment for prospective investors.
PDP commits to creating an enabling policy landscape and significantly improving the ease of doing business by eliminating unnecessary processes and bottlenecks. The party plans to review and amend FDI policies, establish robust e-payment gateways, and ease foreign worker recruitment processes.
PDP recognizes the crucial role of CSIs in job creation and equitable income distribution. Key initiatives include the establishment of a specialized CSI window to serve the financial needs of CSIs, providing access to investment funds, working capital, up-scaling funds, venture capital, and tailored financial incentives.
PDP outlines strategies to enable private sector growth, emphasizing a shift from a public sector-led economy to one driven by the private sector. Key initiatives include limiting the role of Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) and State-Owned Enterprises (SoEs) to sectors with social mandates and strategic national importance.
PDP proposes a Nu 15 billion stimulus plan funds to support the revival and growth of the private sector. The fund will be allocated for initiatives such as loan deferment, special loan schemes, downstream industries, start-ups, and support for specific sectors.
Truckers and Taxi Operators: Recognizing the importance of the transportation sector, especially truckers and taxi operators, PDP outlines initiatives to ease the loan-to-value mortgage requirement, protect viability, establish an Indo-Bhutan office along the Indian Highway, and promote electric taxis.
DPT places the private sector at the forefront of its economic vision, aiming to boost its contribution to GDP to at least 50 percent. The party’s multifaceted approach involves comprehensive taxation reforms, the establishment of a Private Sector Development Council, and an emphasis on the ease of doing business. DPT envisions an enabling environment for business, achieved through the streamlining of regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, and improving physical infrastructure.
DPT recognizes the importance of creating an enabling environment for business operations. Initiatives include the streamlining of regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, improving physical infrastructure, protecting intellectual property rights, and facilitating trade routes with India. This holistic approach aims to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and create a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive.
Acknowledging natural resource constraints, DPT proposes the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture. Initiatives include fostering entrepreneurship as a foundation for economic growth, providing training and assistance to young entrepreneurs, eliminating bureaucratic hurdles, investing in quality infrastructure, and redesigning skill-oriented education programs.
DNT envisions an economy characterized by progressive and inclusive growth, pledging to address macroeconomic imbalances and promote exports for sustainable development. The party’s short-to-medium term commitments include exempting Business Income Tax (BIT) for small and micro businesses, establishing a National Economic Development Board, and expanding hydropower and solar power capacity.
DNT commits to exempt Business Income Tax (BIT) for small and micro businesses, including startups with an annual turnover of less than Nu. 300,000. This initiative aims to provide financial relief and stimulate growth in the small business sector.
DNT proposes the establishment of a National Economic Development Board under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. This board will guide and develop the economic roadmap of the country, providing strategic direction for sustainable economic growth.
DNT aims to generate an additional 3000 MW of hydropower and harness 500 MW of solar power to enhance energy security. This ambitious plan aligns with Bhutan’s commitment to clean and sustainable energy sources.
DNT pledges to revise the taxation policy/law to make Bhutan’s exports more competitive in regional and international markets, particularly for minerals and fruits. This initiative is aimed at promoting the country’s products in the global market.
DNT aims to reduce the business turn-around-time by at least 50 percent. Streamlining processes and reducing bureaucratic delays are crucial for fostering a business-friendly environment.
DNT commits to increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Nu 100 billion to attract external capital for economic development. Attracting FDI is a key strategy to boost economic growth and bring in resources for critical development projects.
The party promises easy access to credit with collateral and reduced interest rates for loans in identified sectors, including agro products, minerals, forest products, handicrafts, textiles, and import-reducing products
DNT’s long-term commitments include developing a strategic vision document capturing priorities for the 21st century, exploring regional markets for domestic-listed companies, establishing offshore investment avenues, creating a future reserve fund for contingencies, and developing theme-based economic opportunities in different Dzongkhags.
The political parties are not just planning for the future; they are also outlining a detailed strategy for economic growth led by the private sector in the country. As citizens get ready to vote, the details of each party’s economic vision become crucial in determining the path Bhutan will take.