Prime Min­is­ter Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay Presents the State of the Na­tional Re­port to the Par­lia­men­tary

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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.

Health

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.

Ed­u­ca­tion

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.

Liv­ing Stan­dards

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.

Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment

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.

Women

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.

Em­ploy­ment

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.”

Gov­ern­ment Ser­vices

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.

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