The Prime Minister presents five jewels of economy
The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay presented the state of five economic jewels of the government to His Majesty the King and the joint sitting of the parliament last Tuesday.
The state of nation is an annual report on the performance of the government, country’s progress, achievements and challenges. Lyonchhen specifically presented based on five economic jewels; hydropower, agriculture, tourism, cottage and small industries and mining.
Hydropower formed the first jewel. Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay informed the joint sitting session that the sector generated revenue of Nu.7 billion (B) last year. The report highlighted the development of the hydropower remains the backbone of the economy and has capacity to generate 30,000 MW of which 23,760 MW is economically feasible. The Prime Minister reported that as of now, only 1,606 MW has been generated contributing Nu.7 B as revenue and further increased with the completion of 126 MW Dagachhu hydropower in April 2016. With the completiopn of the projects of Mangdechhu and Nikachhu in Trongsa, Punatshangchhu I and II in Wangduephodrang, and Kholongchhu in Tashiyangtse with a total of 3,658 MW of hydropower capacity will added to the existing installed capacity of 1,606 MW.
In Bhutan, most of the hydropower projects are joint venture undertakings between the Government of Bhutan and Indian counterpart.
The Prime Minister cited agriculture as second jewel said that as per the GNH survey, farmers are less happy compared with people in the other professions. This is mainly because they face long working hours under unpredictable weather c conditions and damage to crops and livestock by wildlife. Therefore, the government is earnestly implementing many policies and plans to improve agricultural productivity and profitability of farming.
Lyonchen also said that to improve the lives of farmers, government has compensated Nu.119 million for Tsamdro in 17 Dzongkhags. The government continues to focus on constructing and maintaining farm roads, constructed and renovated almost 500 km of irrigation, distrubuted 731,000 kgs of seeds, oil seeds, potatos and cereal to increase production of vegetables. Thus, the government has distrubuted 1,506 green houses and vegetable production has increased. The report highlighted that the government has distrubuted 462 power tillers, trained 150 people to operate power tillers, and installed 1236 km of electric fences covering 7,698 acres and benefiting 6,638 households.
The third jewel is the tourism that continues to be one of an important industry for Bhutan where a total of 141,898 of which 51,656 were international tourists visited Bhutan. The tourism sector is not only generates the revenue to the government but creates employment opportunities. The sector employed 25,517 people and Nu. 1.3 billion was accrued as government revenue in the form of royalty and taxes. As a counter-measure, the government will roll out package of guidelines and regulations to maintain “High Value, Low Impact” tourism policy.
Cottage and small Industries (CSI) which forms an important component for economy as well as creating more employment is the fourth jewel of the nation. The report highlighted that there are 16,548 CSIs established in the country which 1,355 new CSIs were established in 2015. Lyonchen said, with the establishment of Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd. (REDCL) as a State Owned Enterprise to encourage SMEs, it will support development of the economy throughout the country. Once the central bank finalizes guidelines for SME banks, the REDCL will function as an SME bank. Further, government plans to set up Rural Enterprise Development throughout the country.
Mining is the final jewel of the nation. It was reported, mineral deposits are the state resources and the benefits must be shared by the citizens of the country. The government initiated two important developments in the mining sector including the Mineral Development Policy will be finalized this year and mineral rent and royalty has been revised after 10 long years. The revision is expected to enhance revenue of Nu.129 million with the increase in mineral rent and royalty for exports of minerals.
Lyonchen said government will continue to focus and take advantage of economic potentials lying in these five economic jewels. “To do so, the government is strengthening private sector by making business environment v more conductive through several interventions.” Lyonchen added.