Ms. Christina Carlson, UN Resident Coordinator called on Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang on August 5, 2013.
Ms. Carlson and Lyonchhen discussed on the Eleventh Five Year Plan, Wangtse Chhirpel, addressing poverty and enhancing entrepreneurship. Lyonchhen told Ms. Carlson that the 11th FYP was drafted by the previous government and developed by bureaucrats. However, the present government will ensure that the PDP commitments are incorporated in the plan and they do not intend to bring about many changes in the plan. “We will ensure protective continuity,” Lyonchhen affirmed.
The Prime Minister said that Wangtse Chhirpel allows for decentralization of power to the people, committing toward pledges people could identify with and focusing on institutional building.
“Decentralization is the most effective and the best way to get things done. Our constitution requires a lot of decentralization of power to the people. This principle is embedded in the constitution and further decentralization is the very concept of democracy,” Lyonchhen said.
Ms. Carlson commended on Lyonchhen’s vision calling it “inspiring”. “It is close to the work UN does,” she said. She also emphasized on engagement of youth, their education, youth employment, social protection and agriculture.
Lyonchhen said that although his goals are lofty, with regard to 100% employment, it was not unattainable. “Our economy is not robust enough to provide jobs to all but we’ll work together and we must ensure that every youth is working in a year or two. We have a very small population and our youth lack the skills and expertise. Therefore, we will try and send them to different countries, where they can work and come back to Bhutan with experience.”
Ms. Carlson also put forward her views on Good Governance, Essential Social Service, Poverty and Environment, and Gender and job protection, the four areas UN is currently focusing on. She also suggested Lyonchhen on reaching out toward other international donors like the European Union and look for partnerships with such donors for investment and mobilization of funds. Lyonchhen assured that the government will do their best to carry out this task.
On poverty, Lyonchhen highlighted on targeted efforts by not just relying on statistics but identifying each and every household living in poverty, clarifying the nation’s status as to where it really stands and see if it was approaching the middle income.
“To carry out this task of identifying households living in poverty, the Local Goverments will be responsible because it is the first point of contact between the people and the government. For this, the local government capacity building needs to be enhanced. Identifying these households is not a difficult task because their number is limited. Our vision is to give importance to poverty. We will redefine poverty both qualitatively and quantitatively. We need to be able to eradicate poverty in our five years’ term,” Lyonchhen said.
Ms. Carlson said that expanding opportunities to rural, enhancing private sector growth, finding and expanding market opportunities should be the main priority.
“People should be educated on developing a sense of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial stamina needs to be showcased and emphasized. It will allow for people to do as much as they can, and thrive without government intervention, thereby accelerating private sector growth. For this, we need a lot more involvement from the UNDP. If the UN help us, it will be possible,” Lyonchhen said.