Development partners whole-heartedly with Bhutan

Puran Gurung/ Thimphu Bhutan’s international developmental partners are committed to supporting the Kingdom, covid-19 pandemic notwithstanding, according to the foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji. “Despite the pandemic affecting the economy of all our development partners, their support in the development of Bhutan is firm,” he said, adding that when the next government takes charge of governance, they will not need to worry on outlining the priorities of the 13th Five Year Plan. “The Gross National Happiness Commission has already done the work.” The foreign Minister also conveyed to the people of Bhutan the appreciation of the development partners for the way Bhutan is utilizing funds for development activities. “Our development partners are very happy with the way Bhutan is utilizing the funds for development activities,” he said. The development partners had advised the government to focus on recovery of the economy that was affected by the pandemic. The foreign ministry confirmed that, despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the financial progress of Bhutan stood at 45 per cent, attributing it to the support and assistance of Bhutan’s development partners. The European Union committed Euro 31 million for Bhutan’s development activities for the next three years – 2021 to 2024. EU will further support Bhutan till 2027. “It is one of the biggest concrete commitments,” said the Gross National Happiness Commission’s secretary, Thinley Namgyel. There were also concrete commitments from the Asian Development Bank. Inside the country, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) committed to frontload USD 1.5 million to fill the deficit the country faced for the fiscal year. According to the foreign ministry, the biggest development partners of Bhutan – Government of India, European Union, Japan among others - had not only confirmed their support for Bhutan but they also expressed interest to work together at all times. Meanwhile, the biggest reprioritisation budget in the 12th FYP was allocated to build farm roads as helped contractors and local people. The government is also assessing the need to move away from the traditional five-year plan and realign to shorter plans fitting government’s tenure in the office.