BKP feels the need to re­think on the hy­dropower projects

Bhutan Times - - Home - Staff Re­porter

Bhutan KuenNyam Party ( BKP) has stated that to avoid the prob­a­ble oc­cur­rence of a black swan event, the gov­ern­ment needs to pause and re­think whether there is an ur­gency to ac­cel­er­ate ef­forts in ag­gres­sive devel­op­ment of hy­dropower. While hy­dropower would re­main an im­por­tant com­po­nent of our econ­omy, Bhutanese should think about whether it is use­ful to pur­sue fur­ther devel­op­ment of hy­dropower – at great cost and risks to its cit­i­zens and ecosys­tem for pur­suit of rev­enues, about which con­cerns must be con­fronted in terms of overde­pen­dence on one source and a sin­gle buyer. Or should we agree to take a stag­gered ap­proach and learn from past ex­pe­ri­ences on all as­pects of eq­ui­table so­cial devel­op­ment, em­ploy­ment, macroe­co­nomics, po­lit­i­cal econ­omy and the en­vi­ron­ment.

In a press re­lease is­sued by BKP it states that the gov­ern­ment must anal­y­sis as to what ben­e­fit the Bhutanese peo­ple and the pri­vate sec­tor has de­rived from the avail­abil­ity cheap hy­dropower in the coun­try so far. With the com­mis­sion­ing of Chukha, Tala and Kurichu hy­dro­elec­tric projects, Bhutan been able to put in con­certed ef­forts in shar­ing so­cioe­co­nomic benefits to the Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion. For in­stance, job cre­ation for our youth, busi­ness devel­op­ment for the pri­vate sec­tor, mar­kets and town­ships for our dzongkhags. The hy­dropower devel­op­ment agree­ments should have poli­cies and terms to cre­ate jobs for our youth not nec­es­sar­ily at pro­duc­tion sites or dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod but whether an over­all devel­op­ment agenda is in place to de­velop com­mu­ni­ties run­ning a vi­brant lo­cal econ­omy as a spillover ef­fect along the val­ley floors.

“With cheap power avail­able in the coun­try, has the devel­op­ment of Bhutanese owned in­dus­tries in the south­ern bor­der gained mo­men­tum on grounds of com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage with po­ten­tials to cre­ate more jobs for the un­em­ployed and ad­di­tional rev­enues for the gov­ern­ment so far has to be looked into.” the press re­lease added .

At the end the 11th five- year plan our GDP to debt ra­tio is es­ti­mated to a record high of 111% with in­creas­ing dis­burse­ments of PHPA I & II and Mangdechu; not men­tion­ing Nikha Chu and Kho­long Chu projects. With 80% of loans ac­crued to hy­dropower, the gov­ern­ment must be real sure that fi­nan­cial pro­jec­tions and busi­ness mod­els ( fi­nanc­ing schemes) will yield cor­rect out­comes be­cause past pro­jec­tions have not al­ways been true. We must take valu­able lessons from PHPA cost de­vi­a­tions from the ac­tual es­ti­mates.

Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party thinks, Bhutan should not have any ur­gency to de­velop new hy­dropower projects but rather pause to un­der­take some re­flec­tion be­fore block­ing an­other river. In­stead pru­dent bor­row­ings should be in­vested in sus­tain­able job cre­ation and pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment, be­cause ul­ti­mately it is the peo­ple of Bhutan who will have to pay off the li­a­bil­i­ties and not any gov­ern­ment.

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