Set­ting the right pri­or­i­ties

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Be­sides giv­ing pri­or­ity to the health sec­tor by the newly elected gov­ern­ment, they had also pledged for the econ­omy that nar­rows the grow­ing in­come dis­par­ity between the have and have-nots.

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

The gov­ern­ment plans 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 will be to build a ro­bust econ­omy that, in the long run, con­trib­utes to the coun­try’s long-held vi­sion of self-re­liance.

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

The gov­ern­ment has plans to 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. It will not only boost the econ­omy but will help in ef­fi­cient and re­li­able trans­port ser­vices.

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

In or­der 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.

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 De­cem­ber 2018. With in­clu­sion of Sankosh and Kuri-Gon­gri projects, which are al­ready in the pipe­line the to­tal gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity grows to 5,264MW re­sult­ing in more than 100 per­cent in­crease for ex­port.

The gov­ern­ment plans to 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.

While the list may be many and set­ting the right pri­or­i­ties may be the right job now and as we move ahead all Bhutanese should live a con­tented life ac­corded by a strong econ­omy.

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