The State of the Nation report presented by the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley is similar to a report card on the progress achieved by various government agencies.
The government has judged its overall performance to be good in what has been a particularly challenging year.
It must be acknowledged that the government has been doing fairly well with its basic minimum programs so far like electricity for all, rural connectivity, primary school enrollment etc.
As per the figures in the report Bhutan is also well on the way to achieving its Millennium Development Goals.
There also has been progress in other fields like Education, Health, Hydro projects, Foreign Policy etc. Particular mention must also be made of the dynamic steps being taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests from achieving near milk, cheese and poultry self sufficiency to efforts to boost agricultural productivity. Though quality is a concern in some areas the rapid spread of farm roads by the MoAF will ease the lives of many villagers in remote areas and also pay rich dividends both economically and politically.
What cannot also be ignored is that this government report card is being announced when less than a year is left for the 2013 elections.
The result of the 2013 elections will be determined almost entirely by the performance of the government in its minimum program, its MDG goals and rural infrastructure. This is because an overwhelming portion of Bhutan’s population still lives in the rural areas.
Given the performance on this front in the last four years, many political pundits say that the DPT government is scheduled to come back with a large majority. A clear regional comparison can be made in 2009 General Election victory of the Congress party in India which came back with more seats due to its success in reaching out with its minimum programs in rural areas.
The report also touches on Transparency. This government may have faced some corruption allegations but these will have little or no impact in the outcome of the 2013 elections. One is because they have not been many and the few that have come up are old cases that many feel do not reflect on the current government’s performance. The other reason is that with more openness post democracy the public has shown a very short memory and has even shown a willingness to forgive past cases. Bhutanese politics like South Asian politics is also seeing the rise of the cult of the ‘strong leader’ and as long as the leader can provide strong leadership and deliver the basics then corruption allegations are a minor irritant.
The rupee crunch which is also a reflection of unprecedented economic activity is leading to painful measures as of now but it is a valuable lesson that our productive capacities need to be strengthened. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the attempts to blame the government almost entirely for the rupee crisis by some in the private sector are not holding water with many people. Call it effective communication skills or public perception, the majority public consensus on the rupee crisis is that it has many more causes and was made worse by excessive consumption and increased economic activities. This perception will considerably lessen the political impact of the rupee crisis.
The government still has under a year left and should continue to be consistent and aim to fulfill all targets in the best manner possible. After that their fate will be left in the hands of the people.
It is also important to remember that while the government must be given due credit a lot of the foundation for our development was laid by our Kings in very challenging circumstances. Also no matter how well or how badly the current or future governments in power perform the role Monarchy is absolutely essential for the ultimate security, sovereignity, unity and stability of Bhutan as a nation.