New gov­ern­ment pledges for the eco­nom­ics of the coun­try be­sides health

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

Be­sides giv­ing pri­or­ity in health sec­tor by the elected gov­ern­ment for the third Par­lia­men­tary Na­tional Assem­bly 2018, the new gov­ern­ment pledges for the eco­nom­ics of the coun­try.

The man­i­festo states that “The new gov­ern­ment pledges to keep our econ­omy se­cure by devel­op­ing an in­clu­sive, sus­tain­able and eq­ui­table econ­omy that con­trib­utes to GNH.”

One of gov­ern­ment's plans is to cre­ate a vi­brant econ­omy and a fairer so­ci­ety with de­cent liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­one, ir­re­spec­tive of back­grounds. Given Bhutan's lim­ited fi­nan­cial sec­tor and its cur­rency be­ing pegged to the In­dian Ru­pee, the gov­ern­ment at­ten­tion would be to build a ro­bust econ­omy that, in the long run, con­trib­utes to the coun­try's long-held vi­sion of self-reliance.

“Re­coup Nu. 10bil­lion by strength­en­ing tax col­lec­tion and reg­u­lat­ing tax eva­sion , in­crease per­sonal in­come tax (PIT) ceil­ing to Nu.300,000, ex­empt busi­ness in­come tax (BIT) for busi­ness and firms that have less than Nu.200,000 turnover.

It would gen­er­ate ad­di­tional 5,200MW of hy­dropower through Sankosh, Kuri-Gon­gri and other projects, strengthen tourism sec­tor by es­tab­lish­ing Tourism De­vel­op­ment Board to spear­head the sec­tor. In­vest 10 per­cent of tourism roy­alty in pro­mot­ing and mar­ket­ing tourism and en­hanc­ing con­nec­tiv­ity, work to­wards a vi­brant pri­vate sec­tor by im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions of the Pri­vate Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment – The Way For­ward, 2016.

Be­sides, the gov­ern­ment would to egal­ize in­for­mal sec­tor and es­tab­lish an agency to pro­tect, pro­mote and sup­port ap­prox­i­mately 70 per­cent of the work­force en­gaged in it and draft Bhutan: Vi­sion 2045 doc­u­ment in close con­sul­ta­tion with all Stake­hold­ers.

The man­i­festo states for the plan of ac­tion that the gov­ern­ment will write the Bhutan: Vi­sion 2045 doc­u­ment, di­ver­sify of our econ­omy by ac­cel­er­at­ing pri­vate sec­tor growth and in­vest­ing in agri­cul­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vice sec­tors. “This will en­sure sus­tain­ing high eco­nomic growth, gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and cre­at­ing re­gional bal­ance through op­ti­mum iden­ti­fi­ca­tion project sites across the coun­try."

To re­al­ize that, the man­i­festo states that they would es­tab­lish busi­ness in­cu­ba­tion cen­ters in the four re­gions of east, south, cen­tral and west with enough space to en­able aspir­ing en­trepreneurs to shape and de­velop their busi­ness ideas.

The gov­ern­ment also states that Pri­or­ity sec­tor lend­ing (PSL) scheme is a good op­por­tu­nity for en­hanc­ing in­come of farm­ers and youth, the gov­ern­ment pledges to im­prove and ex­pand PSL scheme by gen­er­at­ing aware­ness, open in­for­ma­tion cen­tres at gewog and chi­wog lev­els and keep pro­ce­dures sim­ple and min­i­mal.

It would also es­tab­lish POL (pe­tro­leum, oil and lubricant) dis­tri­bu­tion net­work at var­i­ous strate­gic lo­ca­tions and re­gions of the coun­try to meet grow­ing de­mands from busi­ness cen­tres and com­mu­ni­ties.

The gov­ern­ment would ex­pand the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor to make it an im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to GDP, to­wards achiev­ing this, the gov­ern­ment pledges to sup­port es­tab­lish­ment of im­port sub­sti­tu­tion in­dus­tries such as con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, wood-based in­dus­tries, pa­per and agro-in­dus­tries among oth­ers.

Pri­vate sec­tor in­vestors would re­ceive tech­ni­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tance and fast-track pro­ce­dures will be in­sti­tuted to ac­cel­er­ate their es­tab­lish­ments.

Man­i­festo fur­ther states that the gov­ern­ment pledges to erad­i­cate poverty within the next five years by re­view re­source al­lo­ca­tion frame­work to en­able Lo­cal Gov­ern­ments with high lev­els of poverty and ab­sence of in­fra­struc­ture to re­ceive ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ment funds. Tar­geted area de­vel­op­ment projects will be im­ple­mented in Dzongkhags and gewogs where poverty is high.

The gov­ern­ment pledges to strengthen hy­dropower de­vel­op­ment projects by com­plet­ing the on­go­ing con­struc­tion of Pu­natshangchhu I and II, Nikachhu and Kho­longchhu projects of a com­bined ca­pac­ity of 2,326MW.

This in­cludes the 720MW Mangdechhu hy­dropower project due for com­ple­tion in Novem­ber 2018. With in­clu­sion of Sankosh and KuriGon­gri projects, which are al­ready in the pipe­line the to­tal gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity grows to­tal gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity grows to 5,264MW re­sult­ing in more than 100 per­cent in­crease for ex­port.

“We will en­gage timely ser­vices of Gov­ern­ment of In­dia (GoI) agen­cies for im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­me­dial sta­bi­liza­tion mea­sures for Pu­natshangchhu I dam and un­der­ground power house com­plex for Pu­natshangchhu II.”

In keep­ing with the so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pace of the coun­try and hy­dropower be­ing an evolv­ing sec­tor, the re­vi­sion of the Act is over­due, the gov­ern­ment pledges to re­vise the Elec­tric­ity Act of Bhutan 2001.

The gov­ern­ment also pledges to re­form the tourism sec­tor to make it more vi­brant by re­form­ing the tourism sec­tor col­lec­tively with key play­ers in the in­dus­try and con­sider rec­om­men­da­tions of the Bhutan Tourism Re­view, 2016 and the Spe­cial em­pha­sis on Ser­vices and Tourism. “We will de­velop and im­ple­ment a com­pre­hen­sive tourism pol­icy in col­lab­o­ra­tion with key stake­hold­ers and wide­spread con­sul­ta­tion.”

The man­i­festo also stated that the gov­ern­ment would build a stronger and more trans­par­ent tax sys­tem. The gov­ern­ment will “Re­cover ap­prox­i­mately Nu. 10bil­lion by stream­lin­ing and strength­en­ing tax col­lec­tion. In­come and taxes would be mon­i­tored by devel­op­ing link­ages be­tween fi­nan­cial sec­tors and ser­vices to en­able more trans­par­ent in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and en­sure ev­ery­one pays their fair share.”

It would re­view pre­vail­ing taxes and tax bands to en­sure the wealth­i­est Bhutanese do not pay less than hard work­ing mid­dle class to bridge the gap and sus­tain the econ­omy. And the gov­ern­ment will con­sider in­sti­tut­ing pro­gres­sive taxes and ben­e­fit sys­tems as part of our strat­egy to nar­row the gap, stated the man­i­festo.

“We will adopt ap­pro­pri­ate tax poli­cies and con­sider in­sti­tut­ing lux­ury and in­her­i­tance taxes, will make pri­vate sec­tor a part­ner and strengthen its con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy, would strengthen and ex­pand small and cot­tage in­dus­tries and would le­gal­ize, pro­tect and sup­port in­for­mal sec­tor,” stated the man­i­festo.

One of gov­ern­ment's plans is to cre­ate a vi­brant econ­omy and a fairer so­ci­ety with de­cent liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery­one, ir­re­spec­tive of back­grounds

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