The Presidential Debate

The Primary Round Presidential Debate for the National Assembly Elections 2023-2024, took place on 6 November 2023.

President of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), Dorji Wangdi, highlighted the establishment of five hydro-power projects during the first government and expressed intentions to initiate three new hydro projects, if given another opportunity.

The party president was questioned on the obstacles Punatsangchu I hydro project, and who should have been responsible for the issues, Dorji Wangdi mentioned that there had been geological surprises.

PDP’s President, Tshering Tobgay, contended that it was DPT’s change of the dam site that caused the delays to which the DPT President said it was done on the advice of foreign experts.

President of Bhutan Tendrel Party’s (BTP), Pema Chewang, emphasized the need to build trust and improve the working environment for civil servants.

He shared that he found few reasons which is leading to this huge attrition, and they were due to the pension policy, whereby most resigning are those who have not worked for 20 years, the rules in the civil service getting stricter, like IWP and RADA, and no appreciation for their hard work and also, and there are many opportunities abroad.

President of People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP), Tshering Tobgay, mentioned that currently the country is facing a huge economic crisis as well as the exodus. The party pledge to focus on recovering the crisis especially in the remote areas.

DPT President pointing to PDP said, “We have certain regulations that no politicians are allowed to source the funding without proper channel.”

However, PDP President answered saying he was talking about FDI and not funding.

“There are potential investors who are willing to invest in our country and grow our economy and boost their profit too,” the PDP President added.

The debate also touched on PDP concerns about the country’s economic crisis and population exodus, with PDP’s pledge to address these issues.

DNT President, Lotay Tshering, engaged in discussions about introducing private television by PDP, with concerns over private sector influence.

He even mentioned that he burnt two proposals from the private sector on establishing private television during his end term.

However, PDP President defended the idea, stating it provides opportunities for growth and PDP has no plans to remove the pledge.

The PDP President said since crypto currency and Bitcoin is relatively new to us, he mentioned that the alternatives to investing includes hydropower, using it for sustainable fuel, and green fertilizers generation.

President of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa said that he started off with no knowledge on how things work. Unlike other government, he only got to work for two years to which they couldn’t fulfill all the pledges and had to run for the election again.

They changed their party slogan from “Narrowing the Gap” in 2018 to “Putting Nation First-for People, Prosperity and Progress” for the upcoming election.

Based on the slogan, he said that the result on the previous slogan is very evident to the people on what they did in the past five years.

The President mentioned that they have introduced coding in schools around the country, to which, PDP questioned if it is beneficial for students in the remote areas because of lack of electricity supply.

DNT President answered that it is at the initial stage and not fully beneficial as of now.

The DNT President stated that the party is planning to hire experts on studying on the right ways to invest in carbon trading and things related to it in order to thrive.

He mentioned that in this era of 21st century those who invest and participate in carbon trading and bitcoin will thrive.

In an effort related to this, he said DNT has also developed a different department for water and even developed water engineering course in college of science and technology and also made dedicated climate study centers.

DNT also has plans to use hydrogen energy to make high speed rail for tourist, one from Paro- Thimphu, for business one in Thimphu-Trashigang and Thimphu to Phuntsholing.

President of Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT), Kinga Tshering, differentiated their pledges with  outlining plans such as buying a hospital in Australia.

Out of their 215 pledges, they aim to achieve 48 pledges in the first 108 days.

To build a hospital in Australia, it would cost around USD 60 million and USD 13 million for an old age care center.

He also mentioned that since Bhutanese are already working in hospitals, thus the aim is to recruit them.

The debate moderator questioned that if he plans to recruit our medical staff there, won’t the attrition rate go higher here in the medical sector, to which DTT President answered that it won’t make a difference here.

DTT President gave insight on how AI can be very helpful in education sector and agriculture sector and many others.

He stated that AL can make our works easier and faster. However, we need to make use of it in right ways and also share that those who wants to make use of AI also need to know how to use it smartly.

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