Trans­la­tion of His Majesty The King’s Na­tional Day Ad­dress - Samtse, 17th De­cem­ber, 2018

Bhutan Times - - Home - Tashi Delek.

T oday, we are all gath­ered here with the peo­ple of Samtse to cel­e­brate the most aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion of our 111th Na­tional Day.

The pres­ence of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo makes to­day even more spe­cial. This year, His Ho­li­ness the Je Khenpo is also among us, so this is a truly aus­pi­cious cel­e­bra­tion– il­lus­tra­tive of the har­mony and kin­ship that ex­ists among our peo­ple.

On this spe­cial oc­ca­sion, I ex­tend my Tashi Delek to all Bhutanese cel­e­brat­ing in the twenty Dzongkhags, and those who are study­ing and work­ing abroad.

Our Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tions are spe­cial be­cause they pro­vide an oc­ca­sion for all Bhutanese peo­ple to re­call and re­flect on the im­mense sac­ri­fices made by our fore­fa­thers in build­ing this pre­cious na­tion of ours and to reded­i­cate our­selves to the ser­vice of the Tsa-Wa-Sum.

This year has been a mo­men­tous elec­tion year with the suc­cess­ful con­duct of elec­tions to both the Na­tional Coun­cil and the Na­tional Assem­bly. This suc­cess is at­trib­uted to the guid­ance pro­vided by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Bhutan, and the sup­port of the civil ser­vice, me­dia, armed forces, and vol­un­teers, and un­der­pinned by the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of the peo­ple in ex­er­cis­ing their fran­chise. I ex­tend my heart­felt ap­pre­ci­a­tion to all.

There were four Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties which con­tested in the Na­tional Assem­bly elec­tions, with 188 can­di­dates in the Pri­mary Round. Ir­re­spec­tive of whether they won or lost the elec­tions, their par­tic­i­pa­tion has been a com­mend­able ser­vice to the na­tion for which I ex­tend my ad­mi­ra­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

As you all know, the Druk Nyam­rup Tshogpa was elected to form the govern­ment and the Druk Phuen­sum Tshogpa as the op­po­si­tion. I would like to take the op­por­tu­nity, on this spe­cial oc­ca­sion of the Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tions, to ex­tend my Tashi Delek to our new Prime Min­is­ter, Dr. Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing and the Op­po­si­tion Leader, Dr. Pema Gyamt­sho, and to all the other Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

As the foun­da­tions of our democ­racy grow stronger by the year, ac­com­pa­nied by the con­tin­u­ous strength­en­ing of the elec­toral process, we have gained in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence which will help us over­come chal­lenges. Fur­ther­more, with the bless­ings of the Triple Gem and the pro­tec­tion of our Guardian Deities, the prayers of the Clergy, and the un­stinted sup­port of our peo­ple, we have been suc­cess­ful in achiev­ing all our im­por­tant na­tional goals.

The sys­tem of democ­racy in Bhutan is founded on the no­ble vi­sion of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo who has worked self­lessly and tire­lessly through­out His Reign to bring such ex­traor­di­nary cir­cum­stances to our coun­try to­day.

There­fore, I con­sider all of us - the King, the govern­ment, civil ser­vice, elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and the peo­ple of Bhutan – ex­tremely for­tu­nate to be granted this sin­gu­lar op­por­tu­nity to serve our coun­try.

In the run up to the re­cent par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, I lis­tened to the cam­paign pledges and made sure not to miss a sin­gle de­bate on tele­vi­sion. I was heart­ened to note that all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties were firm and com­mit­ted, and the can­di­dates were as­tute and com­pe­tent.

The po­lit­i­cal par­ties iden­ti­fied var­i­ous ways to safe­guard our fu­ture and achieve our na­tional goals. Some chose to fo­cus on re­duc­ing the grow­ing eco­nomic in­equal­ity in our coun­try and in nar­row­ing the gap be­tween the haves and have-nots. Oth­ers fo­cused on the im­por­tance of self-re­liance for the in­di­vid­ual and the na­tion. Some felt that it was im­por­tant to em­power our peo­ple through the de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion process and oth­ers di­rected their at­ten­tion to erad­i­cat­ing cor­rup­tion by pro­mot­ing good gov­er­nance.

Not­with­stand­ing the dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties pledged to work for the well­be­ing of our peo­ple through their res­o­lu­tions: help­ing farm­ers ad­dress is­sues re­lated to hu­man-wildlife con­flict; ad­dress­ing prob­lems caused by wa­ter scarcity; re­pair­ing ex­ist­ing roads and build­ing new roads; im­prov­ing mo­bile and dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity; help­ing farm­ers mar­ket their farm pro­duce and earn bet­ter re­turns for their hard work; the un­der­ly­ing ob­jec­tive be­ing to in­crease the in­come of our peo­ple.

The po­lit­i­cal par­ties also iden­ti­fied var­i­ous im­por­tant ar­eas: en­hanc­ing ac­cess to and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of health­care in the coun­try; pro­vid­ing higher qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for our chil­dren; en­sur­ing the well­be­ing of our youth; and cre­at­ing greater em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. In ad­di­tion, the po­lit­i­cal par­ties pledged to help im­prove in­fra­struc­ture, bol­ster our hy­dropower sec­tor and strengthen the pri­vate sec­tor.

There was a deep em­pha­sis placed on im­prov­ing good gov­er­nance, with pledges to: strengthen the rule of law, es­tab­lish bet­ter mech­a­nisms for checks and bal­ances, en­hance trans­parency, and im­prove ef­fi­ciency in the de­liv­ery of pub­lic ser­vices. The par­ties also ex­pressed their con­cerns about the in­creas­ing na­tional debt, grow­ing cor­rup­tion, and a num­ber of other is­sues of im­por­tance to the coun­try.

In essence, I was deeply heart­ened to note that all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties were com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing our sovereignty, peace and unity; achiev­ing eq­ui­table so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment; and en­sur­ing the long-term wel­fare of the peo­ple and coun­try, in line with our na­tional ob­jec­tive of build­ing a Just and Har­mo­nious So­ci­ety guided by the no­ble prin­ci­ples of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness.

The vi­sion of their pledges clearly re­flected our as­pi­ra­tions as a na­tion, and I com­mend all the par­ties and can­di­dates who par­tic­i­pated in the elec­tions.

Dur­ing the Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tion in 2013, I spoke at length about the im­por­tant roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the civil ser­vice. Five years later, I feel that it is an ap­pro­pri­ate time to, once again, re­flect on the im­por­tant ser­vices pro­vided to the na­tion by civil ser­vants as a new govern­ment takes of­fice and pre­pares to im­ple­ment plans of na­tional im­por­tance.

In 2006, when I be­came King, the bud­get for the 9th Five Year Plan was Nu 87 bil­lion. In the 10th Plan the bud­get in­creased to Nu 148 bil­lion, and in the 11th Plan to Nu 223 bil­lion. Now, as we em­bark on the 12th Five Year Plan, the bud­getary out­lay is ex­pected to ex­ceed Nu 300 bil­lion.

In ad­di­tion to the above plan out­lays, there are a num­ber of ma­jor on­go­ing hy­dro power projects in­clud­ing the Pu­natsangchu I, Pu­natsangchu II, Mangdechu and Nikachu Projects. We have also be­gun dis­cus­sions to con­struct the Sankosh Hy­dro Power Pro­ject, which would be one of the largest hy­dropower projects in the coun­try.

In my view, there will be an im­mense in­crease in both the mag­ni­tude and scope of the na­tional devel­op­ment plans con­sid­er­ing the goals of the 12th Plan and the an­tic­i­pated ac­tiv­i­ties in the hy­dropower sec­tor. As the bud­get ex­pands and the quan­tum of work in­creases, the as­so­ci­ated risks are also mag­ni­fied. Thus, it is crit­i­cal for our civil ser­vants to be more alert, con­cerned, pre­pared, and mind­ful than ever be­fore.

In a democ­racy, elected gov­ern­ments serve a fixed term and, ir­re­spec­tive of how well mean­ing the govern­ment is and how well they per­form, their fate rests in the hands of the elec­torate and we will in­evitably see pe­ri­odic changes in govern­ment. There­fore, our civil ser­vice has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity in pur­suit of our time­less na­tional goals and ob­jec­tives.

Our most im­por­tant long term na­tional goals in­clude: en­hanc­ing our se­cu­rity and sovereignty; pro­mot­ing our unique tra­di­tions and cul­tural her­itage; con­serv­ing our en­vi­ron­ment; pro­mot­ing peace­ful and har­mo­nious co­ex­is­tence with other na­tions, and en­hanc­ing the rep­u­ta­tion and na­tional iden­tity of our glo­ri­ous na­tion of Palden Drukpa.

Our great­est wealth in hu­man re­sources is epit­o­mised by our civil ser­vants who serve in ev­ery Dzongkhag, Ge­wog, and vil­lage, and should know in­ti­mately the most press­ing is­sues, and the con­cerns and as­pi­ra­tions of the peo­ple. At the same time, they are well trav­elled around the world, so we ex­pect them to be well in­formed and aware of the out­side world. They should be up-to-date with ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and new prac­tices, and able to use this knowl­edge for the ben­e­fit of our coun­try.

Thus, it is im­por­tant that the civil ser­vants, equipped with im­mense knowl­edge, skills, and ex­pe­ri­ence, ren­der their un­stinted sup­port to the govern­ment’s en­deav­our aimed at im­prov­ing the wel­fare of the peo­ple.

As a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, we have lim­ited re­sources. We must man­age our avail­able re­sources wisely, min­i­mize waste, and en­sure that all our re­sources are di­rected at im­prov­ing the well be­ing of the peo­ple, and in ful­fill­ing our na­tional vi­sion. The civil ser­vice is tasked with the over­sight, man­age­ment, ad­min­is­tra­tion, and dis­burse­ment of funds for gov­er­nance. So the re­spon­si­bil­ity falls squarely on the shoul­ders of our civil ser­vants to en­sure ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness in uti­liz­ing our scarce re­sources.

We have more than 29,000 civil ser­vants work­ing in the var­i­ous min­istries and agen­cies of the govern­ment. There are around 13,000 per­son­nel in the armed forces, more than 7,700 peo­ple work for the var­i­ous com­pa­nies un­der the Druk Hold­ing and In­vest­ments, and an­other 3,300 work for other State Owned En­ter­prises un­der the Min­istry of Fi­nance. We have around 1,500 elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This brings the to­tal num­ber of pub­lic ser­vants in Bhutan, whose salaries and ben­e­fits are granted by the state, to around 54,000.

On one hand, this is good news for us – it means that there is one pub­lic ser­vant for ev­ery 13 Bhutanese ci­ti­zens.

How­ever, with such large num­bers, there is a risk that our pub­lic ser­vants can be­come an im­ped­i­ment to na­tional devel­op­ment and progress. The great­est dan­ger will come from their com­pla­cency and in­dif­fer­ence.

Our pub­lic ser­vants will fail in their duty if they do not learn from past mis­takes and cor­rect them, if they are un­re­cep­tive to feed­back, if they lack ac­count­abil­ity, if they are un­re­spon­sive to new ideas and solutions, if they have poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion, or if or­ga­ni­za­tions ex­pand and mul­ti­ply with­out di­rec­tion or co­her­ent vi­sion. In this case, even our best in­ten­tions will bear no re­sults. In­stead, all we will have are missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and a de­bil­i­tat­ing waste of time and re­sources.

If, in the next 10 to 15 years, we achieve all our na­tional ob­jec­tives, the credit will go to our pub­lic ser­vants. How­ever, if we fail, it will mean that the pub­lic ser­vants have failed.

We are a small coun­try - a coun­try like no other. There­fore, we are in a po­si­tion to be more ef­fi­cient and more ef­fec­tive than oth­ers. What oth­ers can do in a decade, we can and should ac­com­plish in a few years. What oth­ers man­age in years, we can and should achieve in months.

It must al­ways be our con­stant en­deav­our to per­form bet­ter, carry out our tasks with greater ef­fi­ciency, ef­fec­tive­ness and grace, and be­come ex­cep­tional in the world.

As I have said many times be­fore– if we are firm in our re­solve, we will suc­ceed and over­come the con­straints posed by lim­ited re­sources.

Look­ing ahead, we have a new five-year Plan, and a great num­ber of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of na­tional im­por­tance be­fore us. We must work to­gether in or­der to build an ex­traor­di­nary, strong, se­cure, and peace­ful fu­ture for Bhutan.

My Na­tional Day prayers for our pre­cious coun­try re­mains the same. May the sun of peace con­tinue to shine for­ever upon Palden Drukpa – Guru Rin­poche’s Baeyul, blessed by Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. May each year al­ways be bet­ter than the last, and may the peo­ple of Bhutan en­joy hap­pi­ness and pros­per­ity for all time to come.

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