Switzer­land and Bhutan co­op­er­ate in Demo­cratic Gov­er­nance Pro­gramme

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The Govern­ment of Switzer­land is one of Bhutan’s long­stand­ing devel­op­ment part­ners. In 2012, its in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion agency SDC opened an of­fice in Thim­phu. Demo­cratic Gov­er­nance has be­come the cen­tral theme of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in re­cent years.

Thim­phu – En­cour­aged by the demo­cratic tran­si­tion, the Govern­ment of Switzer­land has fo­cused its bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion with Bhutan since the 10th FiveYear Plan on the build­ing of the demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

To­day the DG+ Demo- cratic Gov­er­nance Pro­gramme is the main ve­hi­cle of Swiss-Bhutanese co­op­er­a­tion to­wards con­sol­i­da­tion of demo­cratic prac­tices. The Swiss Agency for Devel­op­ment and Co­op­er­a­tion (SDC) has com­mit­ted CHF 5,550,000 mn for im­ple­men­ta­tion of this gov­er­nance pro­gramme in the pe­riod 2013-2016. Four com­po­nents fo­cus on ef­forts against cor­rup­tion, en­hance­ment of pub­lic ser­vices, me­dia devel­op­ment and youth en­gage­ment.

Multi-stake­holder Pro­gramme led by GNHC

The bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment was signed in Septem­ber 2013 by the Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness Com­mis­sion and SDC. Im­ple­men­ta­tion is in full swing and progress of 2013-2014 was re­viewed by main im­ple­menters on 6th Au­gust 2014. The pro­gramme’s ob­jec­tives and tar­gets are aligned with the 11th FYP and the na­tional key re­sult ar­eas. The na­tional ex­e­cu­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of the GNHC is in keep­ing with the Plan’s over­all

strate­gic ap­proach and in­volves part­ner­ships be­tween pub­lic agen­cies, CSOs and pri­vate sec­tor.

The pro­gram is in­tended to achieve the ob­jec­tives with a three-pronged ap­proach of strength­en­ing pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions for cit­i­zen cen­tered ser­vices, com­ple­mented by fos­ter­ing of civil so­ci­ety in­volve­ment and, the strength­en­ing of ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nisms. Multi-Sec­tor ap­proach The four com­po­nents are led by the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ACC), the De­part­ment of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Tele­com (DITT), the De­part­ment of In­for­ma­tion and Me­dia (DoIM) and the De­part­ment of Youth and Sports (DYS). Other part­ners in­clude, among oth­ers, the Trans­parency Bhutan Group, Bhutan Post, the Jour­nal­ist As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan, the Bhutan Me­dia Foun­da­tion, Lo­den Foun­da­tion, the Bhutan Olympic Com­mit­tee and UNICEF.

The pro­gramme sup­ports ini­tia­tives of Govern­ment agen­cies as well as of civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions. Ex­am­ples of the lat­ter in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of lo­cal sports as­so­ci­a­tions in the dis­tricts by the Bhutan Olympic Com­mit­tee or the Youth En­trepreneur and Busi­ness Leader Pro­gramme of the Lo­den Foun­da­tion. The co­op­er­a­tion with Bhutan Post in the strength­en­ing of the G2C and Com­mu­nity Cen­ters is cut­ting across the pub­lic sphere.

The pro­gramme pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bhutanese ac­tors to tap into ex­pe­ri­ences from Switzer­land as well from the Lo­cal gov­er­nance ini­tia­tive (Lo­GIN), a Sout­hand East Asian knowl­edge net­work on gov­er­nance and de­cen­tral­iza­tion. So far ex­change vis­its with peers from In­dia and other South Asian coun­tries as well as Mon­go­lia have taken place.

Close co­op­er­a­tion with the Basle In­sti­tute on Gov­er­nance, a Swiss-based anti-cor­rup­tion out­fit, is on­go­ing.

Long-stand­ing Co­op­er­a­tion

Over the years, Swis­sBhutanese pro­grammes have ex­tended over many sec­tors rang­ing from agri­cul­ture and forestry, ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture and en­ter­prise devel­op­ment, to ed­u­ca­tion, health and en­vi­ron­ment. Hel­ve­tas Swiss In­ter-co­op­er­a­tion has played a very prom­i­nent role in the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of these pro­grammes, of­ten with the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from SDC. SDC man­ages the of­fi­cial devel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) of the Govern­ment of Switzer­land and is part of the Fed­eral De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs.

In ad­di­tion to the DG+ Demo­cratic Gov­er­nance Pro­gramme, SDC co­op­er­ates with the Royal Govern­ment of Bhutan and in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment part­ners in other ar­eas. These in­clude, among oth­ers, Ju­di­cial Strength­en­ing, Lo­cal Gov­er­nance and De­cen­tral­iza­tion and Com­mu­nity Forestry.

By SHoWKat SHaFi

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