EU to fo­cus as­sis­tance on civil so­ci­eties and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Tashi Deki

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion will be as­sist­ing the Royal Gov­ern­ment with €42 mil­lion un­der the new EU - Bhutan co­op­er­a­tion pro­gramme for the time pe­riod 20142020 as known as the Mul­ti­an­nual In­dica­tive Pro­gramme (MIP) . The as­sis­tance will be finalized dur­ing the visit of Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for De­vel­op­ment, An­dris Piebalgs to Bhutan from 21 till 26 Oc­to­ber. The as­sis­tance will be pro­vided to Bhutan in mov­ing to­wards its over­all goal of achiev­ing self-re­liance and in­clu­sive so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment as iden­ti­fied in the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP) as part of the phi­los­o­phy of ‘Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness’.

Ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease from the EU the pri­or­ity sec­tors fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tions with the Royal Gov­ern­ment of Bhutan and other de­vel­op­ment part­ners has been iden­ti­fied as civil so­ci­ety and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties which the gov­ern­ment high­lighted de­cen­tral­iza­tion to­wards the lo­cal ‘ge­wog’ (ge­o­graph­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tive unit in Bhutan) level as its pri­or­ity un­der the 11th FYP with the am­bi­tion to en­sure more sub­stan­tial trans­fers from cen­tral to lo­cal bud­gets. More­over, new elec­tions for the lo­cal gov­ern­ments are fore­seen to be held in 2016. The EU be­came a sig­na­tory to the ‘Part­ner­ship for Good Gov­er­nance’ in 2011 and then started fund­ing the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Support Pro­gramme (LGSP). The pro­gramme was eval­u­ated in 2013 as a ground­break­ing flag­ship project sup­port­ing lo­cal gov­er­nance through in­no­va­tive prac­tices for fi­nan­cial de­cen­tral­iza­tion, lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion de­vel­op­ment and ser­vice de­liv-

ery. The Civil So­ci­ety Or­ga­ni­za­tions (CSOs) have only been emerg­ing since 2008. Their abil­ity to voice peo­ple’s opin­ions and in­flu­ence pol­icy mak­ing is still at a very early stage. Bhutan passed the CSO Act in 2009 and es­tab­lished the CSO Au­thor­ity in 2010, a gov­ern­men­tal body which reg­is­ters CSOs and en­sures com­mu­ni­ca­tion and li­ai­son be­tween CSOs and state in­sti­tu­tions. As of April 2013, about 31 CSOs were regis­tered with the CSO Au­thor­ity.

De­vel­op­ment part­ners have con­trib­uted since 2010 to the CSO Funds Fa­cil­ity, a tem­po­rary mech­a­nism aimed at en­abling non-state ac­tors (me­dia, civil so­ci­ety and pri­vate sec­tor) to con­trib­ute to Bhutan’s de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion and mod­ern­iza­tion. In co­or­di­na­tion with other de­vel­op­ment part­ners, EU as­sis­tance will support this mech­a­nism, as well as di­a­logue be­tween CSOs and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions at cen­tral and lo­cal lev­els. The support will also in­clude ef­forts to strengthen pub­lic fi­nance man­age­ment in Bhutan.

The sec­ond pri­or­ity the EU as­si­atance will fo­cus is the Sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and forestry – The Re­new­able Nat­u­ral Re­sources (RNR) sec­tor takes a prom­i­nent role in the 11th FYP.

Due to limited ar­eas of land avail­able for agri­cul­ture (about 2.9% of the land is used for agri­cul­ture and about 70.5% of the land area is cov­ered by forests),

Bhutan faces food se­cu­rity is­sues and is de­pen­dent on food im­ports from In­dia. The vast majority of the Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion lives in ru­ral ar­eas where the sus­tain­able use of nat­u­ral re­sources is vi­tal in view of its frag­ile en­vi­ron­ment (the slopes of the Hi­malayas are strongly af­fected by cli­mate change). There is a need to de­velop lo­cal agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and com­mer­cial farm­ing and to ad­dress na­tional and house­hold food se­cu­rity. The forestry sec­tor is also vi­tal to in­crease Bhutan’s re­silience to cli­mate change. The EU is a ma­jor player in the re­new­able nat­u­ral re­source sec­tor in Bhutan. EU support to this sec­tor has rep­re­sented the back­bone of EU-Bhutan co­op­er­a­tion since the early 1980s.

In ad­di­tion, Bhutan is ben­e­fit­ting from other co­op­er­a­tion pro­grammes, namely, SWITCH-Asia (a grants pro­gramme funded through the De­vel­op­ment Co-op­er­a­tion In­stru­ment (DCI) that pro­motes sus­tain­able con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion among con­sumers, small and medi­um­sized en­ter­prises and Asian pol­icy-mak­ers in 15 Asian coun­tries) - one project on sus­tain­able tourism for €1.08 mil­lion is on­go­ing since Jan­uary 2013 for 3.5 years and one project on green­ing pub­lic pro­cure­ment in Bhutan for an amount of €2.13 mil­lion started in Jan­uary 2014 for 3.5 years.

The In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for In­te­grated Moun­tain De­vel­op­ment (ICIMOD) project on ru­ral liveli­hoods and cli­mate change adap­ta­tion in the Hi­malaya, with an EU Con­tri­bu­tion of €10 mil­lion cov­er­ing the re­gion of the Hi­malayas.

The EU as­sis­tance to Bhutan for the pe­riod 2007 to 2013 amounted to €14 mil­lion which were as­sisted on re­new­able nat­u­ral re­sources and good gov­er­nance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.