The Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa manifesto

The newly formed Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) has launched its comprehensive manifesto, titled “Sunomics: Towards National Economic Transformation.” The manifesto outlines the party’s commitment to lead in a new era of progress and prosperity for the Bhutanese. DTT’s manifesto features a series of pledges aimed at addressing key sectors of the economy and promoting sustainable development.

Agriculture

DTT recognizes the crucial role that agriculture plays in Bhutan’s economy and aims to maintain its GDP contribution at 20 percent, despite rapid growth in other sectors. They plan to achieve this through improving agricultural productivity, while also transferring skills from the abundant labor force to more productive sectors, like manufacturing and services.

Additionally, DTT pledges to attain self-sufficiency in at least ten essential crops within the next five years, ensuring food security for the nation. Importance of constructing all-weather farm roads, going beyond just blacktop roads, to facilitate efficient transportation in rural areas is also in the pledges. Furthermore, DTT is determined to redefine regional balanced development, providing equal opportunities for all individuals, not limited to just infrastructure development.

Tourism

DTT’s vision for tourism revolves around segregating policy and regulatory functions from marketing and operational services, streamlining the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to encourage repeat visits, and generating substantial annual revenue and employment opportunities. They aim to achieve an annual revenue of USD 500 million and provide jobs for 30,000 people within three years. DTT also plans to review and promote organized tours, learn from pilgrimage trends, and implement strategies to reverse these trends. Their “One Guest, 7 Gates” initiative aims to make tourists feel welcome and explore diverse experiences across Bhutan.

In addition, DTT is committed to increasing hotel occupancy rates to revive the sector and prevent the banking sector from suffering due to Non-Performing Loans. They also have plans to repatriate 5,000 Bhutanese youth from abroad to the tourism and hotel industry through incentive schemes. DTT intends to provide discounts and differential pricing incentives, including an SDF-free zone, to mitigate seasonality and encourage longer stays for tourists.

Employment and skills

DTT places a strong emphasis on vocational and skills education, prioritizing a 70 percent focus after high school. They aim to ensure a 21st-century-ready workforce by 2030, adopting the Bhutan Baccalaureate as the main education curriculum. DTT seeks to provide autonomy to schools, in terms of funding and management, reduce teacher workloads, and allow flexibility and innovation in private schools.

They plan to attract international students to Bhutanese educational institutes and initiate a “Golden Sunshine Carpet Scheme” to reverse the brain drain. DTT envisions a Bhutanese aged care facility and a hospital in Australia while granting government schoolteachers a day off each week.

Health

DTT’s health commitments include increasing rural life insurance, providing crop insurance options for rural wildlife conflicts, and facilitating health insurance for treatment abroad. They aim to offer need-based services for ambulances, nurses, CT scans, and X-ray machines, providing options for those willing to pay for speedy health services. DTT pledges to serve the mentally, physically, and legally challenged sections of society and apply the concept of “your extra time is your extra earning” to healthcare workers. They also plan to provide special dental and dermatological services for the Bhutanese diaspora abroad.

Finance and Banking

In the finance and banking sectors, DTT intends to set up additional banks, venture capital, and private equity (P/E) funds. They will review taxation policies, establish a Green Channel for Foreign Direct Investment, divest loss-making State-Owned Enterprises, and remove double taxation for holding companies. DTT will create investment vehicles like Investment Trust Funds, Mutual Funds, and Hedge Funds, injecting equity into existing banks and financial institutions. They aim to study the currency peg with the Indian Rupee to understand its impact on local inflation and trade balance. Moreover, they plan to enact the Infrastructure Development and Project Economy Act and raise USD 1 billion in green financing from the international market.

DTT’s manifesto outlines a comprehensive vision for Bhutan’s future, focusing on sustainable development, job creation, and enhancing the well-being of the Bhutanese people. The party’s pledges encompass various sectors, reflecting their assurance to fostering economic growth and ensuring the welfare of the nation.

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