Bhutan’s political setting witnesses the emergence of a new party, Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT), leading a transformative economic philosophy named “Sunomics: Buddhist Capitalism with the spirit of Gross National Happiness”. This bold initiative, inspired from the Royal Address of the 114th National Day, seeks to redefine Bhutan’s economic path, aligning it with the visionary goals set forth by His Majesty The King.
At the core of Sunomics lies a profound integration of Bhutan’s unique cultural and natural elements. Symbolized by the “Sun” in its logo, representing Tsa-Wa-Sum (body, speech, and mind), Sunomics is composed to become the keystone of DTT’s economic blueprint, promising a people-centric era of progress and prosperity.
The economic philosophy draws inspiration from the Four Elements of Nature (Jungwa Zhi) and the Five Economic Senses (Paljor Wangpo Nga). Jungwa Zhi encompasses earth, water, fire, and air, representing the rural sectors, hydropower, manufacturing, and the spirituality sector respectively. Paljor Wangpo Nga, on the other hand, focuses on good governance, social harmony, environment, culture, and cutting-edge technology and finance.
The Earth element, symbolizing the rural sectors and mining, is seen as an unused reservoir of potential. By addressing the “poverty paradox” in the mining sector, Bhutan aims to harness its natural resources efficiently, unlocking billions in Ngultrums for future generations.
Water, the second element, encompasses drinking and irrigation needs alongside the revenue-generating hydropower sector. However, a call for improved engineering and resource allocation decisions is made to rectify past inefficiencies and enhance the sector’s contribution to the economy.
The Fire element represents the manufacturing sector, highlighting the synergy between raw materials from the Earth element and hydro-generated electricity. This integration aims to boost the manufacturing sector, fostering economic growth.
Air, the final element, symbolizes the pristine atmosphere and the spirituality sector. With potential revenue streams from air travel, tourism, and GNH branding, Bhutan aims to position its spirituality as a key economic driver.
Paljor Wangpo Nga, the Five Senses of Sunomics, places emphasis on good governance, social harmony, environment, culture, and cutting-edge technology and finance. Notably, good governance is outlined as the silver bullet, focusing on meritocracy, equity, efficiency, and transparency (MEET). The transformation includes converting Lhengye Dhensa to Zhabto Dhensa, breaking policy and regulatory silos for enhanced public service delivery.
Social harmony aims to balance free education and health services with a focus on productive outcomes. Environment focuses on cashing in on the GNH brand through sustainable resource harvesting and attracting USD1 billion worth of green financing over the next five years.
Culture is hailed as a unique strength, contributing to the tourism sector and forming the bedrock of the basic family unit. The blending of modern empiricism, psychology, behavioral science, and spiritual practices promises immeasurable contributions to Bhutan’s GDP.
Cutting-Edge Technology and Finance, the final senses of Sunomics, serve as both means and ends, consolidating the economic elements through modern financial intermediaries and technology platforms.
Sunomics is a simple and a clear economic philosophy that is disaggregated into practical targets and plans. It is based on sound economic theories and frameworks incorporating unique local context.
It is a wholesome approach with clearly identified factors, targets and parameters that is easy for assessment and monitoring.