Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay Presents the State of the National Report to the Parliamentary
Prime Minster Tshering Tobgay presented the state of the nation report to Parliamentary on 5th of June focusing on the Gross National Happiness Survey conducted in 2015.
Lyonchen touched upon health, education, living standards, rural development, women, and culture and religious among others. The report presented the standing of Bhutan compared to other countries based Gross National Happiness (GNH) survey conducted in 2015, legislative plans and the annual plans and priorities of the government, “This is not a government progress report but a status of GNH in our country,” Lyonchen said.
Lyonchen reported that the health of the people is improving. “It is government’s responsibility to continue and strengthen the free healthcare system for the well-being of our people,” Lyonchen said. The government has allocated Nu.4, 505 million for the fiscal year 201617. “A new 150-bedded Gyaltsuen Pema Mother and Child Hospital is being constructed in Thimphu for the benefit of women and children,” he said.
Lyonchen also reported that the demand for traditional medicine is increasing. Therefore, the government has corporatized Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals to make better use of our rich medicinal resources and produce more traditional medicines. He further added, “The 2015 GNH shows that population who attempted to commit suicide increased from 17% to 21% in 2015. This is not consistent with GNH country.” Therefore, the government has developed the National Policy and Strategic Framework to reduce this growing problem.
The survey reveals that educated people work less compared to the uneducated and the government, in principle has approved three private colleges in the country where one is already executed.
The report also highlighted that the government has initiated the Central School system to that limited resources are consolidated and shared. “Under the central school system, a school will have adequate teachers and students will not require moving from one school to another. I am pleased to report that we already have 51 central schools,” he said.
Currently, there are 171,402 students in 539 schools. Of this, 136,557 study outside the four big towns. Every year a total of 8,855 students complete higher secondary education where 4,000 study in Bhutan and rest of them in neighboring countries. He also reported the government has decided to establish three new colleges will begin by next year. The colleges are College of Zorig Chusum in Tashiyangtse, Gyalpozhing College of Sciences in Mongar and Yonphula College of Advanced Studies in Tashigang.
Lyonchen highlighted that in the last five years, living standards of the people have increased significantly. Currently, 97.7% of the people have access to safe drinking water. Lyonchen also reported that last year, the government has spent Nu.321 million and this year, Nu.388 million has been budgeted for rural water supply schemes. Lyonchen also reported that currently, 99% of households have access to grid electricity and 90% of households have roofs with corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets shows that standard of living has increased. Lyonchen also said that the Ministry of Finance has projected GDP growth rate of 7.7% for 2016 is signs of economic growth.
The GNH survey shows that rural people are less happy than urban people. Lyonchen said the Royal Government of Bhutan is deeply concerned with the current situation mainly because 70% of the people live in rural areas. Currently, a total of 4,269 households are empty house holds due to Rural-urban migration. Therefore, the government has been focusing on rural development through decentralizing powers and authority to Local Governments, focusing on roads, reduced taxes to import utility vehicles, providing electricity to all rural households, mobile connectivity, gewog bank and rural business. Thus, the government has developed Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd. (REDCL), Non-formal Education, Helicopter services, crop insurance and increase life insurance.
The GNH survey shows that overall, the women are less happy than men. The women are burdened by unpaid household chores and are unable to engage fully in economic activities or participate in political affairs. “The government is focusing on providing assistance to women,” Lyonchen said.
The maternity leave in civil service has been extended from three to six months. “Let’s work together to provide same benefits to all women across the country,” Lyonchen said.
The government has established 251 Early Childcare and Development (ECCD) Centers in the country with the hope to help child and a big help to mothers.
The GNH survey indicates that the government needs to do more to create jobs. According to the Labour survey 2015, national unemployment rate has decreased from 2.6% to 2.5%. But the youth unemployment has increased from 9.4% to 10.7%. Lyonchen said the government supports to generate self-employment in cottage and small scale industries. “There are ample opportunities to create self-employment in agriculture, livestock and forestry sectors.”
The GNH survey shows that generally people are satisfied with services in areas of health, education, water supply, electricity, roads and communication. However, the survey also indicates that some people are not happy with the government services. Lyonchen also reported that the government is making concerted efforts to improve delivery of services in three ways through government performances system, government to citizen (G2C) services, and through decentralization.