APFANEWS

Manifesto


2008-2013

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa

In Pursuit of Gross National Happiness

Growth with Equity and Justice

We offer our unwavering allegiance to the sacred institution of monarchy, the life-force of our nation.

We dedicate ourselves to realizing the vision of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, for a united, progressive and happy country.

We shall be guided by His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in our pursuit of Gross National Happiness through
a true and vibrant democracy

Table of Contents

FOREWORD BY THE PRESIDENT
FOREWORD BY THE PRESIDENT
OUR VISION
OUR MISSION
INTRODUCTION
STRENGTHENING THE FIRST PILLAR OF GNH
1. EQUITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
1.1. ECONOMY: PROSPERITY IN A REALM OF OPPORTUNITY
1.1.1. Facilitating growth and equal opportunity
1.1.2. Accessing innovative technology and global markets
1.1.3. Enabling industrial development
1.1.4. Promoting rural growth and employment
1.1.5. Maximizing national wealth
1.1.6. Broadening participation in a growth sector
1.1.7. Harnessing emerging opportunities
1.1.8. Ensuring ecological responsibility before profit
1.1.9. Raising manufacturing capacity with ecological sense
1.1.10. Enhancing freedom and ease of movement
1.1.11. Equitable sharing of our common heritage
1.1.12. Redistributing wealth and stimulating investments
1.1.13. Promoting investment and wealth creation
1.2. ERADICATING POVERTY: IMPROVING RURAL LIFE AND FARM BASED INCOME
1.2.1. Igniting the engine of growth
1.2.2. Lighting up life
1.2.3. Quenching thirst
1.2.4. Keeping the nation connected
1.2.5. Providing easier access to capital
1.2.6. Easing the burden of access
1.2.7. Making farm life easier and harmonious
1.2.8. Bringing sustainable wealth to farmers
1.2.9. Revitalizing communities for profit and happiness
1.2.10. Protecting crops and saving labour
1.2.11. Providing a roof over your head
1.2.12. Reaching out to the vulnerable
1.3. HEALTH: A HEALTHIER BHUTAN
1.3.1. Raising the quality of public health care
1.3.2. Improving local delivery of better health services
1.4. EDUCATION: BUILDING OUR FUTURE
1.4.1. Raising morale and motivating teachers
1.4.2. Pursuing excellence for all
1.4.3. Improving content and evaluation
1.4.4. According full equity in access to education
1.4.5. Bringing schools closer
1.4.6. Reaching the unreached
1.4.7. Offering alternatives
1.4.8. Strengthening participation
1.5. EMPLOYMENT: ENHANCING OPPORTUNITIES
1.5.1. Promoting a knowledge based society
1.5.2. Elevating education and skill levels
1.5.3. Matching supply with demand
1.5.4. Improving information flow
REINFORCING THE SECOND PILLAR OF GNH
2. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
2.1. ENVIRONMENT: STAYING GREEN
2.1.1. Sharing the bounty of forests
2.1.2. Conserving water resources
2.1.3. Maintaining biodiversity
2.1.4. Keeping our neighbourhood clean
REVITALISING THE THIRD PILLAR OF GNH
3. PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION OF CULTURE
3.1. CULTURE: ENRICHING LIFE
3.1.1. Maintaining unity in Diversity
3.1.2. Calling upon women to lead
3.1.3. Aging with grace and dignity
3.1.4. Being compassionate
3.1.5. Preparing for growing urbanization
3.1.6. Curbing social ills
3.1.7. Investing in the health of mind and body
3.1.8. Ensuring safer communities
3.1.9. Balancing spiritual and material development
CONSOLIDATING THE FOURTH PILLAR OF GNH
4. GOOD GOVERNANCE 35
4.1. GOOD GOVERNANCE: OUR SACRED RESPONSIBILITY
4.1.1. Friendly and accessible government
4.1.2. Independent and professional civil service
4.1.2.1. Financially rewarding remuneration
4.1.2.2. Ensuring administrative equity
4.1.2.3. Prompt and effective service delivery
4.1.3. Impartial and expeditious justice
4.1.4. Transparent and effective constitutional bodies
4.1.5. Eradicating the bane of society
4.1.6. Keeping you informed
4.1.7. Strengthening decentralisation
4.1.8. Protecting lives and property
4.1.9. Holding our place in the world
4.1.10. The custodian of our national security
CONCLUSION

Foreword by the President

It was exactly a hundred years ago that the Bhutanese people placed the destiny of our troubled country in the hands of Gongsar Ugen Wangchuck with complete faith and confidence. Surpassing all expectations of the people, He and his Dynasty have given to our country and people a golden era of unprecedented peace, security and progress. At a time when our allegiance to our beloved Monarchy is at the highest and, indeed, is in ascendance, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck have chosen to return the sacred responsibility directly to the people in the form of Parliamentary Democracy. This supreme gift is a manifestation of the highest degree of trust and belief of our Kings in the collective wisdom of the Bhutanese people and our loyalty to the three fundamental elements (Tsawasum) of Druk Yuel.

No Bhutanese was eager to accept this awesome burden. But even as we now embrace the vision of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo with great trepidation, we take comfort in the presence of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and know that we will always be blessed with His enlightened guidance and inspiration. Unlike any other people or country, the Bhutanese have had the unique opportunity of being personally prepared by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for democracy. He has prepared us for this eventuality through the process of decentralization, election of local government leaderships and by putting in place all the necessary institutional arrangements. The road ahead is, nevertheless, daunting and fraught with challenges. Our duty and privilege is to establish a true and vibrant democracy through which we will not only build on the amazing legacy of our Kings but prove ourselves worthy of their immeasurable trust.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is dedicated to realising the vision of our Kings. It is committed to the creation of a unique democratic culture, the fabric of which is woven from the threads of our spiritual, cultural and historical wealth. It is inspired by the highest standards of ethics and principles. We believe that the pursuit of good democracy begins with the electoral process itself since the values and means by which a party comes to power will shape the way in which it will govern. Likewise, the voters too have the shared responsibility of ensuring that the electoral process is free and fair, that they are allowed to exercise free choice, and that they do not succumb to the power of money and muscle. Where the people yield to greed and fear, they suffer the pain of corrupt governments and authoritarian rule.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is unique in that it is not founded by its ‘leaders’ but by the people themselves. The so called leaders, such as I, are recruits called upon by the people to serve the nation at this critical juncture. Those who have heeded the call include former ministers and red scarf officers along with an impressive array of other senior government officials and professionals from all walks of life including the private sector. The youth too is well represented to complement the wisdom and experience of the elders with dynamism and daring. Our collective leadership capacity and experience is formidable.

In pursuing the noble vision of our Kings, our party has adopted “Growth with Equity and Justice” as the central theme that will guide the party in its endeavours. We see these as the noble means to the noblest end. Justice is the fundamental condition for continued peace, progress and stability of nations just as equity is the means to harmony and sustainable prosperity. Inequity and injustice breed disaffection, insecurity and conflict. They deny nations the opportunity to rise to their full potential. The theme is at the heart of all the values we seek to attain and, as such, resonates throughout this manifesto. It is the basis on which we humbly seek your mandate.

We solemnly pledge to establish a government that is caring and responsive while subjecting itself to transparency, accountability and public scrutiny. To this end, we shall always keep an ear for even the loneliest and feeblest cry for help. We will articulate, through policies, the shared hopes and aspirations of the people and devise the means for their realization.

It is my humble hope that you will find, in the pages of this manifesto, reasons for placing your trust in Druk Phuensum Tshogpa.

(Jigmi Y. Thinley)
President,
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa

Our Vision

A sovereign and prosperous nation of enlightened citizens committed to the pursuit of Gross National Happiness through growth with equity and justice, encompassing economic self reliance, social harmony, environmental integrity and political justice.

Our Mission

1. To realise the vision of His Majesty the King for a truly vibrant and progressive democracy wherein sovereign power will lie with the people and the purpose of government shall be to fulfill their hopes and aspirations.

2. To always strive to ensure that national unity, security, justice, fundamental rights and freedom are never compromised.

3. To abide by the Constitution and uphold the Rule of Law.

4. To persevere with endeavours to build and strengthen conditions for the happiness of the Bhutanese people.

5. To ensure stability and serve as a standard of constancy and trustworthiness amid the vagaries of party politics and the ever changing political landscape.

6. To establish standards and norms for party politics and behaviour by way of example so that parties and individuals choose to follow them or be so inspired, as to give all voters true and comparative choice.

7. To be guided, demonstrably, by the highest management and social ethics and principles so that the party shall be worthy of the loyalty of its own members and the trust and confidence of the people.

8. To recognize and give opportunity to potential leaders to rise to positions of political office irrespective of their social standing or economic status.

9. To govern, when given the mandate, with transparency, accountability and compassion in keeping with the ideals and purposes enshrined in the Constitution of our country.

Introduction

In keeping with the tenets of Gross National Happiness, our development philosophy as espoused by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the manifesto of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa clearly spells out the policies and programs that are designed to create the conditions that are necessary to promote holistic human development and happiness. The conditions for attainment of happiness are enhanced when the four pillars of GNH are operationalized through appropriate policies and programs that touch all dimensions of human life. Good governance, the fourth pillar of GNH is really the most important precondition which is necessary to realize the other three pillars namely, Sustainable Socio-economic Development, Conservation of our Natural Environment and Preservation of our Culture. While good governance, for which Bhutan has received international recognition, has so far been assured by the enlightened leadership of His Majesty the King, it will now have to be assured by the people of Bhutan through the institution of democracy.

The most important role of the first democratically elected government is to ensure the successful establishment of democracy. Democracy must now be the foundation of the state and the basis for good governance. The people must reign supreme with equality as the essence of their participation. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is fully committed to nurture and strengthen the institution of democracy to lay a solid and unshakable foundation for good governance, for all times. How parties and candidates are elected will inevitably determine how they will govern, as the seeds of corrupt practices are often sown in the electoral process. Our party will therefore, continue to abide by the highest moral standards and ethics to ensure fair and just elections and respect the dignity of the Bhutanese people.

The most innate desire of all beings, to ultimately be happy, cannot be attained if one has to endure economic deprivation and the resultant misery that poverty brings. Our party has therefore, made social and economic development the heart of our manifesto so that the people may enjoy higher standards of living, better health, the best education, adequate income, access to modern amenities and technology and less hardship. While growth and development have been given the highest priority, the overarching theme throughout the manifesto is equity and justice in all facets of human life. Equity is a necessary condition for justice, and equality a basic human right and aspiration, which will enable the benefits of development to reach the poorest and the weakest. Justice, another innate human yearning, is most important in a society of rational beings to maintain social harmony and moral order.

The fact that Bhutan has achieved impressive all round development and improved the lives of the people under the dynamic leadership of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, has laid the foundation for faster, more equitable and humane development. Our party is, therefore, committed to further uplift the well being of the people, specially those who live in remote and inaccessible areas and those who are disadvantaged. We shall make the best of efforts to mobilize the necessary resources from within the country and from donors both traditional and new. We are committed to accelerating the pace of development, subject to the availability of resources and fiscal discipline that are necessary to ensure long term stability and sustainability of the national economy.

Strengthening the First Pillar of GNH

1. Equitable and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development

1.1. Economy: Prosperity in a Realm of Opportunity

Bhutan is admired the world over, by donors and others alike, for her remarkable socio-economic progress over the last four decades. This is mainly due to the unique development philosophy of GNH that has guided her development progress. Vast opportunities for advancement in all areas lie ahead, particularly in the economic sector. This is, indeed, most fortunate for a country which is among the least developed and for which material growth remains the key to improving the quality of life of her people.

It is imperative to build on this firm foundation and accelerate economic modernization while staying faithful to the guiding philosophy of GNH. In this regard, we believe that the private sector has now reached a stage when it can be called upon to take the lead role. A strong and vibrant economy, as emphasized by His Majesty the King time and again, is necessary for the continued peace, security and prosperity of the nation. We must capitalise on the opportunities provided by globalization by leveraging our strengths through the creation of an efficient, investor friendly environment; supported by coordinated development of policies, infrastructure and focus on thrust areas in the manufacturing and service sectors.

Policies must be aimed at fostering greater competitive advantage through use of advanced technology, skills and provision of industrial infrastructure. A high economic growth rate that is inclusive and equitable is the only long term solution for poverty reduction and improvement in the living standards of our people. It is also a pre-requisite for enhancing national self-reliance and reducing dependence on external resources. Moreover a strong and dynamic economy is vital for the smooth transition of the nation to a successful democracy. A country beset with economic woes cannot meet the aspirations of its people.

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa will, therefore, review and revise existing policies and also adopt new economic measures to address emerging issues such as youth unemployment, and challenges associated with global integration. We aim to achieve a healthy economic growth rate of 9% per annum.

We will promote an open and collaborative relationship between the private sector and the government through regular and mandatory consultations on policy and other matters that affect private sector growth and mutual trust. Cooperation between the private sector and the government shall be facilitated by restructuring the Private Sector Development Committee, to comprise mostly of representation from the private sector. It shall provide policy advice to the government on all economic matters. We will provide technical and other forms of support for the institutional development of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) to make it an effective, truly democratic and professional body of the private sector, capable of representing and promoting private sector interests, in a transparent and effective manner.

There shall be a level playing field for all Bhutanese to participate in industrial and business enterprises. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa shall create the necessary enabling environment to promote the development of the private sector and support and induce investments in the development of socially responsible and environment friendly industries. This shall be done by framing appropriate policies promoting the development of economic infrastructure, rationalization of incentives, and targeted support for core industries, among others. These broad interventions will be supported by sector specific policies that will address sector related constraints.

1.1.1. Facilitating growth and equal opportunity
Furthering deregulation and liberalization

The role of the Government shall mainly be that of a facilitator and regulator and business activities shall be left in the hands of the private sector. We realize that often times, Government regulations, well intended as they may be, stifle private sector initiative. As much as a nascent private sector needed to be chaperoned, the time has now come to recognize the growing maturity of the private sector.

Hence, registration and licensing procedures will be simplified and time bound. “One-stop shops” will be established to provide efficient and timely services and spare the private sector the harrowing experience of having to run from pillar to post and having to overcome one bureaucratic hurdle after another. All sectoral policies and procedures will be made clear, transparent and well publicized. Codes of best practice will be formulated and all archaic sectoral red tape will be eliminated. Licensing shall be replaced with registration for all business and industrial undertakings with the exception of prohibited and restricted industries that are of strategic and national importance. Bottlenecks in the existing relevant Acts will be amended and new appropriate laws framed.

In keeping with the policy of de-monopolization and to ensure that monopolies are averted, a Monopolies and Business Malpractices Bill will be presented to the National Assembly. A Consumer Protection Bill covering goods and services shall be formulated to protect and promote the interests of consumers. Such legislation will ensure quality and prevent unrestricted price escalations.

1.1.2. Accessing innovative technology and global markets
Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI)

In view of the constraints facing the private sector in terms of resources, technology, entrepreneurial skills and higher transaction and coordination costs in integrating into the global economy, all efforts will be made to attract FDI. A FDI Act shall be enacted to provide policy stability and investor confidence and the definition of FDI shall be broadened to facilitate regional investments. In so doing, national interests and social responsibilities shall be borne in mind. Institutions and mechanisms shall be established for the settlement of FDI related disputes and FDI companies shall be allowed to register and own land in the name of the company, registered in Bhutan.

In order to benefit from the global market and without deviating from our commitment to GNH, accession to WTO membership shall be carefully considered. An active role in SAARC and BIMSTEC will also be pursued. All efforts will be made to protect intellectual property rights such as patents, copyrights and trademarks. This will also cover the protection of indigenous knowledge, expertise and arts and crafts from foreign ownership or control.

1.1.3. Enabling industrial development
Building industrial infrastructure

The acute inadequacy of industrial infrastructure is the prime impediment to industrialization. Given the nature of our rugged and mountainous terrain, infrastructure development costs are prohibitively high for individual industries while the lack of industrial sites with basic infrastructure is a severe constraint for industrial development. In order to overcome the difficulties posed by the rugged terrain and to reduce costs for potential investors and industries, the development of environment friendly industrial estates wherever feasible, will be enabled and encouraged. Such industrial estates will be provided with basic infrastructure and collective environmental management. The estates shall be developed and managed by autonomous agencies to ensure efficiency and timely decisions. Private sector and foreign direct investment participation in the development and management of the industrial estates shall be promoted. While major industrial estates will be set up along the southern borders, appropriate infrastructure for cottage and small industries, including service industries, shall be developed in every Dzongkhag. Various fiscal incentives to ensure the viability of the industrial estates will also be introduced.

In order to facilitate the flow of international trade, we will expedite the establishment of a dry port in Phuentsholing to provide a destination for all goods or cargo entering or exiting the country. The possibility of establishing dry ports at Gelephu and other commercial cities along the southern border shall also be studied and pursued where feasible. Currently, all consignments destined for Bhutan are checked at Kolkota and then cleared for onward transit to Bhutan, involving extra documentation and costs, resulting in considerable delay. The dry port will provide the same facilities as a seaport and will be equipped with cargo handling, storage facilities with clearing and forwarding goods facility, warehousing, trans-shipment and transit. The dry port can then be used for all import and export for general cargos, containers to or from India as well as other countries.

1.1.4. Promoting rural growth and employment
Supporting cottage and small enterprises

Cottage and small enterprises hold great promise for generating gainful employment for the rural communities and the poor, supporting equitable income growth and encouraging balanced regional economic development. As such, highest priority shall be accorded to promote and support the growth of cottage and small industries. A separate department shall be set up in the concerned Ministry with the specific mandate for promoting and supporting the establishment of cottage and small industries. The department shall develop proper support packages, monitor project implementation and provide timely intervention, where necessary.

The new department shall explore and facilitate the development of the full potential of the embryonic cultural industry into a vibrant sub sector to include film making, animation, performing arts (music and dance), publishing, community based spiritual tourism, wellness tourism based on traditional medicine, and a large role for rural and traditional craftsmen. Cottage and small enterprise shall also, among others, be accorded support for the development of business services, establishment of linkages with large industries as ancillary activities, credit guarantees, access to micro credit facilities and space in the industrial areas.

1.1.5. Maximizing national wealth
Expeditious realization of hydropower potential

Bhutan is well endowed with fast flowing perennial rivers and consequently, blessed with huge hydropower potential. Hydropower is already the backbone of the economy and will remain so, given our potential and the insatiable market for reliable and clean energy. The highest priority shall be accorded to the optimal development of our national hydropower energy potential within the shortest possible time, to maximize national wealth. We are committed to starting the construction of several mega projects within the next 5 years, towards increasing the power generation level to 10,000 MWs by 2020 (within twelve years). In order to accelerate the development of our hydropower potential, public-private partnerships and private sector participation will be encouraged. We shall also consciously ensure that the mega projects are, to the extent feasible, evenly distributed among the Dzongkhags to promote balanced regional development.

1.1.6. Broadening participation in a growth sector
Expanding opportunities in the tourism sector

The tourism sector represents great potential for earning hard currency and for generating employment, particularly for both rural and urban educated youth. As such, we shall broaden opportunities and participation in this growth sector. While the promotion of this sector will be pursued, care shall be taken to ensure that our pristine and natural environment and unique culture are unharmed. The dangers of mass tourism shall be avoided and Bhutan will remain a special high end destination where people come to rejuvenate their mind and body. To this end, regulations and incentives shall be put in place for the progressive improvement of all facilities and services to reach the highest standards. The Hotel and Tourism Management Training Institute shall be properly established and supported to impart international standard training and become a prestigious regional institute for tourism management.

While Bhutan will continue to be portrayed as a cultural, hiking and trekking destination, new and innovative activities shall be promoted to draw upon our natural and cultural heritage, such as new trekking routes, bird-watching, adventure sports and activities, spiritual experience, wellness, happiness, peace and tranquillity. Bhutan has a special appeal as the birth place of the concept of Gross National Happiness. Domestic and foreign pilgrimage and Buddhist circle tourism shall be promoted in co-operation with regional bodies. Policies to develop, promote and market such new products will be drawn up. In order to promote Bhutan as an ideal destination for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), an appropriate convention centre of international standards shall be built in Thimphu during the 10th five year plan and elsewhere thereafter. Private initiative shall be welcomed in this regard.

Tourism enables people to earn income from cultural activities such as architecture, arts and crafts, performing arts, etc., making it economically worthwhile for people to engage in activities that promote and conserve our culture. It is in fact the most powerful means for the preservation and revival of cultural heritage in all its forms. Old heritage sites, such as Drugyel Dzong, Drapham Dzong and Zhongkhar Dzong, will be conserved and protected as popular tourist sites. All such sites that require attention and protection will be identified and policies for the conservation, protection and use of such sites will be formulated. In addition to the normal tshechus, other festivals shall be instituted to promote cultural growth and tourism in various parts of the country as in the case of Puna Tshechu and Dechenphu tshechu with entirely new dance repertoires.

In order to spread the benefits of tourism among all Dzongkhags, special support shall be extended to encourage community participation in providing food & lodging, transport, porter and guide services in rural areas. Greater access to cultural and natural wealth, such as Dzongs, tsechus, religious ceremonies, neys, parks, rivers and mountains shall be facilitated with proper rules to ensure the safety, sanctity and dignity of our people and tourism resources. Special support shall be given to promote tourism in eastern and southern Bhutan and in this regard, both Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar shall be included as entry and exit points for tourists. New and exotic destinations in the country shall be explored and opened to tourism. In doing so, local sensitivities and security concerns will be taken into consideration

1.1.7. Harnessing emerging opportunities
Positioning to serve a prospering region

The service sector has immense potential to generate employment and hence, all avenues will be explored to enhance its contribution to growth, revenue and employment. Given the ideal geopolitical location and the peaceful and natural environment of Bhutan, we will explore and strategize to exploit emerging opportunities and promote and position Bhutan as a regional player in the fields of education, health, finance and banking, ICT, construction and consultancy, among others.

While the present policy of providing free health care will continue, the establishment of international standard hospitals and health facilities, with private sector participation, shall be encouraged to provide specialised medical services to foreign clients and to cater to the needs of Bhutanese who require highly specialised treatment and referral services. International schools and other institutes shall similarly be promoted to cater to foreign and Bhutanese students. Appropriate concessions shall be negotiated for grants to Bhutanese nationals to avail such health and educational services.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based service industries including telecommunication facilities, shall be aggressively promoted through the establishment of Information Technology (IT) parks and various fiscal incentives. FDI in all of the above sectors will be encouraged so as to ensure meaningful employment and retention of capital within the country.

1.1.8. Ensuring ecological responsibility before profit
Cautious and responsible mining

In view of the serious damage mining often causes to the environment, mining activities shall be permitted only when the benefits far outweigh the costs. Mining operations shall be subjected to the highest environmental standards including afforestation and other soil conservation measures. In view of the dangers to the environment, care will be taken to ensure that proper environment impact assessment studies are carried out before mining activities are permitted. Further, scientific mining methods and the mechanization of operations will be promoted and made mandatory. Longer term leases will be provided to ensure sustainability in view of the investments that scientific mining methods and technology entail. Mining operations in all areas declared as critical watershed zones will continue to be restricted. While promoting this sector, environmental and cross border sensitivities and concerns will be taken into consideration.

1.1.9. Raising manufacturing capacity with ecological sense
Environment friendly and socially responsible industries

While this sector will continue to receive special consideration as a core sector, particular emphasis will be given to develop niche industries to exploit any strong comparative advantage that Bhutan may enjoy. We will explore markets for our products in the region and beyond. We will however, adopt a more cautious approach to the establishment of polluting and particularly chemical based industries and will seek to attract environment and socially responsible industries through foreign direct investment. The principle of reduce, recycle and reuse (3Rs) will be strongly promoted.

‘Brand Bhutan’ will be promoted as products that are clean, healthy and environmentally friendly. While the strong commitment to the protection of the environment requires regulation of industry, efforts will be made to assure that such regulation is designed so as to adequately protect the environment while not unnecessarily hindering industrial development. As most of the manufacturing industries are located along the southern border, serious consideration will be given to matters concerning security and cross border sensitivities, for long term peace and tranquillity.

1.1.10. Enhancing freedom and ease of movement
Safer and affordable transportation

The acute shortage of reliable and efficient means of transportation in both the rural and urban areas is the main reason for higher cost of goods and services, and has become the common denominator for all activities in the Bhutanese economy. Safer, reliable and more affordable, and at the same time, more diverse transport systems have become essential. Such services will not only provide greater choice to people but could reduce the temptation to own private vehicles and lessen congestion and pollution in urban areas while inducing savings or investment in more useful and meaningful areas such as housing. This will also encourage people from different social strata and neighbours to travel together, thus increasing opportunities and space for social interaction and community building.

Appropriate policies to improve the safety and quality, as well as the expansion of public transport services will be initiated. Improvement of ancillary services through the expansion and modernisation of facilities such as bus terminals and stops, highway conveniences and rest areas, taxi parking, workshops, airports, railway sidings, dry ports, etc., will be given our full support. Measures to enhance corporate responsibility by way of improved passenger insurance and security will also be introduced. In this regard, the import and use of eco-friendly means of conveyances such as hybrid cars and electric buses in urban centres and ropeways in remote areas will be supported. Operators of public transportation services such as buses and taxis shall be provided with credit guarantees and access to soft loan facilities for replacing old vehicles with newer, more efficient, reliable and eco-friendly ones.

We recognize that the growth of the economy depends on adequate transport infrastructure such as road and rail networks and to a lesser extent air transport. Initiative shall be taken to widen and strengthen all the national highways and the Dzongkhag roads. The second east-west highway connecting Jomotsangkha (Daifam) to Sibsoo will receive priority consideration for both economic and security reasons. We shall expedite the building of new airports and introduce aviation services including light aircraft, in eastern, central and southern Bhutan. Helicopter services for official, business and emergency purposes shall be considered while being mindful of the need to maintain the high value of tranquillity and silence for which Bhutan is much appreciated. In order to reduce transportation costs for the private sector and to facilitate trade with India and third countries, the establishment of railway links with India will be expedited.

1.1.11. Equitable sharing of our common heritage
Equal access to natural resources

Being a mountainous country, Bhutan has a limited endowment of natural resources and for the large majority of Bhutanese, access to these resources is vital for sustaining and improving their livelihood either directly or indirectly. These resources include land, water, forest products, timber, sand, stones, etc. The potential of this sector to contribute substantially to the country’s socio-economic development by generating cash income, employment and hence providing opportunities for those living in rural communities must be realized optimally. In this regard, the main issues that need to be addressed include equal access, diminishing quantity against the population growth, poor product quality and lack of production and marketing infrastructures.

Mechanisms will be established to increase the supply of timber, sand and stones. In this regard, we admire the action taken by the Royal Government under Royal Command to ‘keep prices affordable, ensure equitable allocation and that the revenue from sand and stone further benefit the people and nation.’ We will also establish a local natural resource management committee at the gewog levels to coordinate and administer the use and management of natural resources.

A clear and consistent approach will be adopted for land acquisition which will include various options such as outright purchase at market rates or providing substitute land, based again on market values or the option of holding stakes in projects for which land is acquired. The option exercised will depend upon the purpose of acquisition and the choice of the land owner. The issue of land use and the degree of protection warranted for any particular use, in view of the social and economic opportunities that maybe lost will be studied. Similarly, landowners, whose lands have been designated as no construction zones, will be compensated adequately. To these ends, laws and regulations pertaining to land use and classification pattern shall be reviewed and reforms proposed, if necessary. We will undertake policy, institutional and structural changes to bring about a transparent system of allocating resources, their use and management and ensuring fair and equitable access to natural resources for all Bhutanese.

1.1.12. Redistributing wealth and stimulating investments
Sound fiscal policy for growth

It is of the utmost importance that economic growth be sustained through the adoption of prudent fiscal and monetary policies aimed at keeping the economy balanced and stable. To this end, we will ensure that the economy continues to grow at a sustainable rate and increase the standard of living of all Bhutanese, through various development programmes outlined in the five year plans. Public resources will be channelled towards the most essential programs in a cost effective manner. While providing adequate incentives and rewards for enterprise and wealth creation, policy measures and instruments will be put in place to redistribute the benefits of economic growth to all members of society and to bridge income disparity through progressive income taxes. Low or no taxes shall be imposed on essential commodities and the current nominal rural tax rates shall be maintained.

Budget deficits shall continue to be maintained within sustainable limits and we shall ensure that public debt is within generally acceptable thresholds. Public debt shall be contracted only for socio-economically productive investment purposes so that, as enshrined in the Constitution, future generations are not punished for our indiscretions. A formalized strategy for public debt management will be formulated covering national debt strategy, governance and institutional issues. The development of a formalized strategy would help ensure that a consistent policy for debt management is in place, and reduce the risk of short-term alterations to such policies to suit political expediency. The debt strategy will be published to increase transparency, and to improve public awareness of debt management activities.

We will support the efforts of the Royal Monetary Authority in ensuring price stability as price inflation tends to hurt the poor most. Recognizing the importance of autonomy for the central bank, we will review and revise the Royal Monetary Authority Act to give it the necessary institutional independence for effectively pursuing its mandates.

Targeted fiscal incentives for priority sectors and specific regions will be provided for hydropower, tourism, ICT, other core industries, and rural based industries to stimulate regionally balanced economic development. However tax shelter industries and activities seeking only to profit from and exploit tax and duty differentials will be discouraged. In order to ensure equity in the tax system and to promote small and cottage enterprises, the integration of the business income tax with the personal income tax will be examined. The corporate income tax system shall also be reviewed to encourage investment and corporatization, and the existing customs and sales tax rates will be harmonized to facilitate trade and commerce. Customs duty and sales tax exemptions will be provided for the import of raw materials and capital goods for targeted industries and those that export to convertible currency markets. Bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties for the avoidance of double taxation shall be negotiated with strategic trading as well as development partners.

1.1.13. Promoting investment and wealth creation
Liberalising the financial sector

The financial sector shall be progressively liberalized to encourage both domestic and foreign competition in financial services, product diversification and access to other sources of finance. The private sector will be encouraged to become the driving force in the development of the financial sector. Legislative reforms aimed at promoting good corporate governance will be introduced to create a competitive, efficient, stable and balanced financial and banking system. The foreign exchange regime will be thoroughly reviewed and, where possible, liberalized to ensure that opportunities and entrepreneurship are not restricted or stifled.

A market-based approach to fund the domestic resource gap will be introduced to facilitate the development of financial markets. Steps will also be taken to minimize impediments to the development of a capital market for equity and corporate bonds and provide instruments suitable for private investments. Greater clarity and transparency in policy and decision making will be provided to potential issuers and investors. Credit schemes for industrial development will be supported and export oriented industries will be promoted by facilitating export credit programmes and also providing business and export promotional services and facilities.

Given Bhutan’s location between two of the largest and fastest growing economies, we will explore the possibilities of positioning and promoting Bhutan as an excellent centre for international banking and financial services.

1.2. Eradicating Poverty: Improving rural life and farm based income

It is in the larger interest of promoting Gross National Happiness that rural life must be protected and supported. To a farmer whose daily life revolves around back-breaking routines, every day is a challenge. The vagaries of nature, the rejection of farm work by the educated youth and the meagre income amid rising costs of living, propelled by consumerism, beg for change. Based on the national poverty line of Nu. 1,097 per person per month, it is estimated that 23.2 percent of the population of the country is poor. Of this, only 1.7 percent of the urban population is poor, against 30.9 percent of the rural population. Inequalities between the rural and urban population are relatively high, with poverty being more of a rural phenomenon.

Thus, measures will be adopted to make farm and rural life more productive, profitable, comfortable and attractive. Socio-economic programmes shall be implemented at the national, regional, inter Dzongkhag, intra Dzongkhag and gewog levels to realize His Majesty’s vision of equitable distribution of the benefits of development. This shall be facilitated through periodic baseline socio-economic assessment surveys and proactive action plans that will focus on promoting regional balance and poverty eradication in all areas of basic socio-economic development and services. These will include distribution of government institutions and exploration and implementation of viable large projects, wherever possible.

We are committed to bringing on par all communities on the basis of agreed criteria of socio-economic infrastructure and services within 10 years. In this regard, the local governments, which will enjoy even greater decentralized power and authority, will play the lead role in the identification of the needs and implementation of the programmes. To this end, the local governments shall receive priority and necessary support for further raising resources, and their technical and administrative capacities.

1.2.1. Igniting the engine of growth
Road to every Gewog

Roads are a necessary pre-condition for growth and development. It remains the topmost priority for the people of all Gewogs that have no motorable roads or other convenient means of access. Unless this is achieved within one plan period as a special priority programme, the prevailing social and economic disparities will increase rapidly and become so vast and unconscionable that remedial measures would be too late and too costly. Improved quality of and access to health and education services, profitable returns for farm produce, lower costs for essential items and viability of various economic activities, are the benefits that come with better access.

We therefore shall link every Gewog with motorable roads or other more efficient means of access in five years even if it comes at the cost of other programmes. Furthermore, every effort shall be made and plans framed to ensure that all communities are brought within one day of walking distance over two plan periods. In so doing, environmental and related concerns shall be addressed. Safer and reliable rural public transport services will also be promoted and developed. Beyond these, criteria for what constitutes farm, feeder or Dzongkhag roads and obligations of users thereof will be reviewed to ensure that the people are not excessively burdened with the responsibility of maintenance and improvement while the roads do stay open and useful.

1.2.2. Lighting up life
Electricity for all

We commit ourselves to illuminating every village with electric lights by the end of the 10th five year plan. All efforts shall be made to improve the quality of life of our people with electricity for lighting and cooking, to enable the employment of various labour saving devices, optimal learning opportunity for students, environmental conservation and income supplementation activities. This shall be pursued by augmenting and accelerating the existing rural electrification programme. Where power from the grid is not feasible, off grid power such as solar or wind power shall be provided, particularly in remote and inaccessible areas.

In order to improve power security in all the Dzongkhags, the national power grid project shall be completed in the 10th five year plan, to enable power to flow from surplus to deficit areas.

1.2.3. Quenching thirst
Safe drinking water for everyone

At a time when rapid demographic changes with increasing human pressures on land are combining with the phenomenon of global warming, water, the most basic of human needs, is becoming a scarce and threatened resource, even in Bhutan. Serious water poverty is particularly evident among settlements located on hill tops and along steep inclines where catchments are disturbed or cultivated upon. Even as we claim to having achieved 82% coverage of rural water supply service, adequacy of clean drinking water is a major challenge for many rural folk, and some urban too. In this day and age, there are still communities that spend precious labour on fetching water across long distances. Many old schemes are in need of rehabilitation while in some areas the very sources have dried up or are drying. Safe, sustainable and convenient drinking water supply is therefore, an important priority expressed by many communities across the country. No community must thirst or ail for want of water. We will make every effort to ensure that everyone has access to safe and convenient drinking water within our term of five years.

Irrigation is the life blood of farmers and is essential for ensuring the productivity of land and stability of yield. The rehabilitation of existing irrigation channels and augmenting this network will be placed high on the agenda.

Local governments will be required to undertake in the first year a complete survey and inventory of these services and make recommendations for implementation with central government support and guidance. The responsible central agencies shall be strengthened and local capacities enhanced to implement new schemes and augment and repair those that are in disrepair or in need of expansion. As electricity reaches all communities, one alternative being considered is the installation of water pumps to deliver water to those living above the sources. Yet another alternative being experimented with is supplementation of water supply with rain water harvesting. Where scientific evidence exists to confirm the non-sustainability of sources, various options including resettlement will be explored to protect our people from obvious hardships and an uncertain future. Simultaneously, the most urgent needs, including source protection, proper water management will be addressed.

1.2.4. Keeping the nation connected
Telecommunication for every community

Those who are used to telecommunication, wonder how they survived in the past without it. Those who do not have it rightly feel deprived, as indeed, they are. We shall honour the pledge made in the past by the Government, to connect every Gewog with telecommunication services, including cellular phones and endeavour to go beyond it to connect every community. This shall be done in collaboration with the existing service providers, who will be provided appropriate fiscal incentives to undertake such non-profit social services in the rural areas.

A Gewog communication centre shall be established in every Gewog in order to bridge the digital and information divide. These centres will have telephones, fax and photocopying machines, internet facilities and even television. In addition, these centres shall provide information and services on a host of matters ranging from credit availability and new and innovative farming techniques to the latest Gewog Tshogde decisions and status of local plan implementation.

1.2.5. Providing easier access to capital
Wider access to easy term credit

Easy term credit, along with technical support is central to enhancing income generating opportunities of farmers. The credit worthiness of our farmers is growing together with greater need for credit, to invest in viable and innovative practices and activities. The Bhutan Development Finance Corporation Limited (BDFC) will be strengthened and supported to improve the provision of credit to farmers. The terms of credit such as interest rates, collateral requirements etc., shall be rationalised to enhance access to credit for the neediest, without compromising on the viability of the financial institution. The BDFC shall, in addition to providing credit, also assume the role of providing general banking services in the rural areas, such as savings and current accounts, transferring funds and encashing cheques. Besides increasing access to banking facilities and reducing financial transaction cost for the farmers, this will also enhance the revenue base for the BDFC. Credit and saving groups to sustain agricultural production and rural livelihoods will also be promoted. Special attention will be paid to promote and ensure the continuation of the high rate of participation of women in rural credit schemes. We will emphasise on the improvement of existing mechanisms while being sensitive to the sustainability of new ventures.

1.2.6. Easing the burden of access
One stop service centres for responsible delivery

One-stop farmer service centres shall be established at each Gewog RNR centre for availing information, procurement of inputs like farm machinery and equipment, processing of credit, plant protection and veterinary services. These centres will provide agricultural extension services, market information, legal and financial advisory services, certification and labelling services for farm products, all from a single outlet using the ‘one door, many services’ concept. These will be placed alongside the Gewog information centres.

These centres shall also be responsible at the local level, for the implementation of a comprehensive programme to build storage silos, where justifiable, to protect farmers against post-harvest losses and distribute simple processing units for farm produces. The programme shall include improvement of collection arrangements and off-farm purchase.

1.2.7. Making farm life easier and harmonious
Mechanization and community spirit

In order to make farming less strenuous and more cost effective, farm machinery and equipment shall be made more available with rural-based support servicing. This will be supplemented with village training for youth in technical and business skills for farm based enterprises. An integrated pest control and pollution minimising, soil nutrient management practices programme will also be adopted.

Special schemes will be initiated to overcome farm labour shortage. This is perhaps the most debilitating problem for a growing number of farms. While searching for better ideas, a strategy under consideration is to devise ways to revive and revitalize the age old community self-help system that is dying within the monetized economy. Where such community spirit is prevalent, the local governments will provide support in the form of technical inputs and other forms of incentives.

1.2.8. Bringing sustainable wealth to farmers
Going organic

The prospects of fundamentally improving the quality of life of farmers beyond a certain level, given our small land holdings and subsistence farming practices, are not promising. The difficulty of rural life and the resultant migration in the attempt to escape poverty will be the cause for a host of social problems. Yet it is in the larger interest of promoting GNH that rural life must be protected and supported. It is in the villages that human relations, community vitality, sense of security in phachhim and phazhing, and the notion of control over one’s own life are the strongest. These are the very bases of happiness.

We intend to enhance the prospects of farmers in a doubly sustainable way by exploiting the growing demand for organic products in the region and beyond. Bhutan shall be progressively promoted as a country specialising in organic food. It is our intention that the country itself will ultimately become an organic brand. We are determined to push this as a special priority programme to establish an irreversible culture.

The demand for organic products is limitless for a country of Bhutan’s size and agricultural capacity. The regional economies are expanding rapidly and their discriminating and aging middle class is growing at a phenomenal rate and becoming more health-conscious and living longer lives. Given the immediacy of such markets and the gestation period for Bhutan to become an organic brand, the urgency is compelling. Bhutanese farmers otherwise, will always suffer from the disadvantages of high labour and transportation costs in the global economy.

Organic farming will include initially a small list of cereals, vegetables, fruit and medicinal plants where niche markets exist for such products globally. As the regional markets grow, so must the variety and quantity of our produces in primary or value-added forms. As this would require highly sophisticated technical expertise and capital, a specialized unit under high level supervision shall be established in the Ministry of Agriculture with a time-bound mandate.

1.2.9. Revitalizing communities for profit and happiness
Encouraging farming cooperatives and associations

We will promote the formation of cooperatives and association of farmers to achieve economies of scale for production and marketing of commodities based on local comparative advantages and opportunities. While such cooperatives and associations will be owned and managed by the farmers themselves, assistance will be provided for the development of business plans, accessing finance and credit, development of infrastructure and marketing. We will also undertake rural enterprise and skill development programmes. Besides increasing the cash income of the farmers, it is anticipated that such measures will revitalise communities and sustain agricultural production and rural livelihoods. More will also be done in respect of expanding both the immediate and regional markets, to cash in on concessions such as tax waivers, available within the SAARC, BIMSTEC and other multilateral arrangements.

1.2.10. Protecting crops and saving labour
Preventing losses to wildlife

Elephants, boars, deer, sambar, monkeys and other wild animals have become the nemesis of the farming community all over the country. Already handicapped with labour shortages, many farmers and their young children across the country spend sleepless nights standing vigil over their crops. In some villages, even day-time vigilance is absolutely necessary. All this also adversely affects the performance of the young children in school. While a combination of factors seems to be responsible, the problems need to be studied more thoroughly so that alternative solutions can be adopted. The advancement of forests through the afforestation of tseri land, the stringent control on forest produces, competition among the increasing wildlife population for scarce resource, loss of habitat and fewer natural hunters are some of the reasons. We will accord the highest priority to search for solutions to this problem and measures to prevent encroachment and destruction. Wildlife legislation and conflict resolution policies will be thoroughly reviewed. Government compensation will be considered where major damage or losses to yield have occurred. Crop insurance possibilities, including provision of relief fund during crop failure shall also be explored.

1.2.11. Providing a roof over your head
Making roofing materials affordable for remote farmers

Transport subsidies for CGI sheets will be provided for remote farming communities to reduce demands upon the forests and to reduce costs for replacing shingles with longer lasting CGI sheets. These shall be made available to people in remote areas where transportation and lack of motorable roads make it prohibitively expensive for poor farmers. Needy communities shall be identified in consultation with local governments on the basis of criteria to be established by a committee.

1.2.12. Reaching out to the vulnerable
Targeting the poorest of the poor

The wealth and opportunities of a confident and prospering Bhutan must be shared among families and communities that are poor and vulnerable. We will reach out to the poorest of the poor by initiating a national programme to identify communities and individuals living below the poverty line in both rural and urban regions and implement sustainable interventions to improve their wellbeing. We will ensure that the poorest of the poor have access to decent ways to earn food, shelter and clothing. We will support the resettlement of communities from ecologically unstable and unsustainable areas. We will undertake all efforts to strengthen vocational training to equip such resource poor people with skills for the labour market. We will provide support for home ownership and ensure access to soft term lending and credit facilities with technical support and guidance. We will also provide priority to the socio-economic development of the semi-nomadic communities living along the northern borders, through subsidies, as and where needed so as to discourage migration and contribute towards safeguarding of the national boundary.

1.3. Health: A Healthier Bhutan

While health care across Bhutan has never been better, hospitals still suffer from acute staff shortages, lack of facilities and delays in treatment. We will continue to provide free public health care and will tackle all health inequalities and work hard to ensure faster and better treatment for all. We want to help people stay healthy with the support of a caring health care system. Emphasis will continue to be placed on prevention and early treatment. We will also focus on promoting healthier lifestyles and improving mental health.

1.3.1. Raising the quality of public health care
More doctors, better service conditions and private hospitals

We will strive to raise the quality of health care and related services and to ensure that all Bhutanese have access to a high quality of medical services. We will lower infant and maternal mortality by placing the highest priority on maternal, child and reproductive health care.

A regional medical college shall be established in Thimphu using the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital as the institutional base. This will allow for increased collaboration with foreign medical specialists and also the induction of foreign students. The primary purpose of this college will be to meet the high demand for doctors and to accelerate the induction of medical professionals at all levels of our health delivery system.

We will consider the merits of granting hospital administrations more autonomy with a view to improving and motivating greater professionalism. This would also mean a regionally compatible remuneration system that is commensurate with the nature and demands of medical work.

We shall also plan and work to promote Bhutan as a regional centre for medical tourism to serve the growing demand for high quality medical service in the subcontinent. This will be facilitated by allowing foreign direct investment in the building of one or more 5-star private hospitals in selected locations. This is expected to ease the burden on the national health care system and provide specialised medical services to those who require advanced treatment and referral care. Clear cut standards and guidelines shall be established for the functioning of such hospitals. Among these will be access for Bhutanese citizens at free or at concessional rates.

The country’s indigenous medical knowledge and skills will be further strengthened through the establishment of highly specialised production units and services. The delivery of these services will be improved and expanded. We will also encourage the setting up of wellness centres by linking the tourism sector with indigenous medical practices. These facilities will, in addition to generating income and employment, also contribute significantly to the improvement of the quality of health in our country.

1.3.2. Improving local delivery of better health services
Taking more, closer to the door

We will strengthen the public health care system at the local level so that the poor and disadvantaged have easier and convenient access to basic health care. As local health services become more convenient and proficient, people are more likely to use them leading to better national health status. This will allow more health care to be delivered locally and also help tackle any health care inequalities in the more deprived communities. Where Gewogs are too large and the population is unlikely to be efficiently served by the existing facilities, additional infrastructure other than Out Reach Clinics (ORCs) will be created.

Structural coverage and efficacy of the health care system will be reviewed and measures taken to overhaul the system to ensure greater equity of health services. Every Dzongkhag hospital will have at least three doctors, one general physician and two specialists, including one gynaecologist. Existing facilities will be augmented, including ambulance service, which currently is woefully stretched and inadequate. General physicians will be mandated to visit the ORCs and BHUs on a regular basis.

1.4. Education: Building our Future

The strength and prosperity of a nation depends on the quality of its people. This depends upon the quality of education that the children and youth receive. Good quality schools, first class colleges and world-class universities, all contribute to the success of a country, which naturally is built on the learning and knowledge of its people. Education is central to the all-round development of the nation and is critical for the success of democracy. A future of prosperity for Bhutan can only happen through the skills and enterprise of its people.

While our children have always enjoyed the provision of free education given by the government, there is a general concern that the quality of education has not matched the rate of expansion of educational services. There is also the reality that the poorest sections of our society face tremendous difficulties in accessing even the free education that is made available for their children. Consequently, they either avail alternative education or miss school altogether. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa shall endeavour to address these concerns. We are committed to continuing the present policy of providing free education and further enhancing its scope to help the poorest.

We will work to achieve high standards in our education system and the education sector shall receive the highest priority. Education and learning will be a priority and we will strive to develop and improve our education system with sustained investments in the education of our population, from pre-school children to adult learning. We will step up our drive to equip our children with the skills they need and instil in them a love of learning. We will ensure all children have a good grounding in the basics, and provide a comprehensive and rich curriculum with more choices of subjects and opportunities to learn languages, vocational skills, science and creative skills. Every child will have the best education we can provide.

1.4.1. Raising morale and motivating teachers
Supporting our teachers

Teachers are the backbone of the education system and the quality of education hinges on their quality and motivation. We will create an enabling environment to improve teacher morale and motivation through a system of recognition and reward. In particular, we shall provide focused and subject specific training for both pre-service and in-service teachers, so that teaching skills are better complimented by knowledge of the subject matter. This shall be based on needs assessment carried out periodically for teachers. A teachers’ training college, specifically designed to enhance teaching skills and more importantly subject knowledge, for in-service teachers shall be established in the east.

We will expand significantly, the number of teaching and support staff in our schools so that teachers can concentrate on their academic responsibilities without being burdened by additional non-academic responsibilities. We will also appoint professionally trained counsellors, physical education instructors, art and music teachers and IT instructors, laboratory and library assistants, to support the teachers. We will work on improving teacher qualifications, career pathways, personal development and pay and working conditions. In return, we will emphasize higher personal and professional standards in teachers and institute more effective and school-friendly monitoring and support mechanism.

1.4.2. Pursuing excellence for all
Helping students attain their full potential

The pace of change is accelerating and those without skills will find gainful employment much harder to come by in the future. Knowledge and skills that might once have lasted a lifetime are now only relevant for a few years. We will look beyond the traditional idea that education ends when you leave school or college, to an era when we never stop learning and re-learning. Continuous, high quality learning is our strategy for Bhutan’s future.

We will work toward ensuring that each child receives the teaching and support needed to reach their full potential. Reducing class size, improving teacher-pupil ratios and increasing support for teachers, particularly on alternative strategies to improve discipline in the classroom will be some of the options to consider. Use of ICT including e-learning and self learning will be popularized and promoted.

A special policy decision shall be taken to promote Bhutan as a regional centre of excellence, especially in niche areas such as environment, Buddhist studies, culture, tourism and hospitality and build or strengthen appropriate institutional facilities for the purpose. We will explore the possibilities of establishing additional tertiary institutions and colleges throughout the country.

1.4.3. Improving content and evaluation
Setting clear goals and benchmarks

Curriculum is the soul of the education system that brings together the teacher, the learner, the government and the society towards a common mission. To this end, educational integrity will be enhanced through a curriculum offering to create better learners and to ensure that education provides for the holistic development of the child. Comprehensive guidelines will be developed encompassing bench-marks, learning objectives, selection of learning materials, pedagogical choices, and assessment for each discipline area supported by the required provisions.

Young Bhutanese will be equipped with knowledge and skills that will enable them to compete in the national, regional and international job markets. We will introduce reforms aimed at ensuring that our young ones have much greater opportunities to learn and excel in globally useful skills, in particular, languages and sciences, including computer science. We will include ICT as an important subject in schools to build the necessary foundations for a knowledge-based society that Bhutan must be. We will enhance the use of information technology as a powerful means of learning. Personal attributes like volunteerism, dignity of labour, leadership, teamwork, extra-curricular activities and proficiency in life-skills will be inculcated and promoted. Subjects like social ethics and civic responsibility will be introduced beyond mere formality to ensure responsible, law abiding, honest and intelligently patriotic citizens.

Curriculum implementation and standards will be supported through regular trainings and refresher courses for teachers. This will ensure that new initiatives take root and are implemented as required.

We will also support a standard national curriculum with extra modules for specific target groups in particular areas. We will explore possibilities of special curriculum for religious institutions to give our novice monks a certain minimum standard of education in English, maths and computer skills.

1.4.4. According full equity in access to education
Making education truly free for the poorest

Educational inequity still persists along socio-economic lines. An alarming number of children are deprived of ‘free’ education because many parents cannot afford to buy uniforms or pay for accessories that in fact are nominal. Inability to arrange mid-day meal packs is yet another problem. While the problem is daunting, we are heartened to note across the country, that when students in low-income communities are given the educational opportunities they deserve, they excel. It is this knowledge which fuels our sense of urgency and responsibility to do everything we can to ensure educational opportunity for all.

We will work on collecting social data that provide concise facts and figures to guide us in extending support to the needy sections and families across the country. We will ensure that no child is left out of school because of financial constraints or socio-ethnic factors. Civil society organizations will be invited to work with the school authorities and local governments to ensure that the neediest receive assistance. We will work with them, international organizations and development partners to raise funds to mitigate this problem.

1.4.5. Bringing schools closer
Sparing children the pain of walking beyond I hour

The right to education for all children as promised by the Constitution will not be equal unless the school is brought within convenient walking distance for every child. One of the most painful sights in the rural and remote areas is the hungry child walking long distances, trudging up steep paths carrying heavy satchels on empty stomachs. Going back home in the rain seems less a painful thought than arriving at school, wet, cold and tired, in the rain – too tired to learn and too exhausted to remember.

All efforts will be made to provide educational facilities within convenient walking distances for every rural community to ensure that children stay close to their parents. Reintroduction of the concept of extended classroom shall be considered. Alternative arrangements, where necessary, will be made, including stipends for boarding. Subsidised school bus facilities will also be introduced for students within an improved public transportation system to ensure that it is joyfully easy for children to get to school.

1.4.6. Reaching the unreached
Enhancing non-formal and continuing education

In spite of the Royal Government’s efforts to provide education to all our citizens, many have not attended school or have dropped out early because of family responsibilities and other compulsions. However, the introduction of non-formal and continuing education programmes has come as a boon to many of our citizens. Today, a large number of our men and women are able to acquire basic literacy (current literacy rate: 56%) through the many non-formal education centres spread across the length and breadth of the country.

We will support the continuation of these programmes and all efforts will be made to link them with the general education system. The party will undertake expanded programmes for non-formal education to bring the light of learning to all sections of society thereby improving the quality of life and enhancing opportunities for the realization of GNH. Opportunities will also be provided to all citizens and to interested civil servants to upgrade their knowledge and qualification.

1.4.7. Offering alternatives
Promoting world class private schools

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa will always support the continuation of free education. In addition, it will promote Bhutan as a regional centre for high quality education. To this end, it will facilitate private sector initiative, including foreign direct investment to establish world class educational facilities and to bring in reputed educationists, resources and institutional linkages with well established institutions the world over. This shall be encouraged at all levels i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary by providing clearer guidelines and fiscal incentives. Such guidelines will be limited to the standards and curriculum of the institutions, including some minimum social obligations in the form of scholarships and special concession for nationals. We will not dictate the pricing schemes, which will be left to the investor and market forces. The private sector and FDI will also be encouraged to establish and operate tertiary vocational institutes.

1.4.8. Strengthening participation
Sharing responsibility with parents and communities

In order to ensure that the education policies are reflective of the needs and aspirations of society and that all the important stakeholders, especially parents, are involved in the education of children, the participation of the community and parents will be encouraged and sought through various methods. Community participation through school management boards and parent-teacher meetings shall be strengthened and their context broadened.

Public discussions on current policy issues in education shall be held. Similarly, various other mechanisms to facilitate the participation of all stakeholders in the policy and decision making process as well as to solicit their opinions, views and feedback, will be created. However, it must be borne in mind that while all members of society must assume responsibility in contributing to the education policy, parents have the most important role in instilling values in children and laying a good foundation for the overall development of their character.

1.5. Employment: Enhancing Opportunities

Any economic development is dependent on and sustained by the productivity of its population. Without a high employment rate, long term economic growth is neither sustainable nor socially desirable. Four decades of successful implementation of an inclusive education policy has led to a rise in the number of job seeking Bhutanese youth in an infant labour market. Employment opportunities will therefore have to be created through sustained growth in national productivity resulting from macroeconomic measures including policies to increase public expenditure, improved productive capacity and promotion of private investment. It must be supported by an industrial policy designed to accelerate growth in particular sectors of the economy. These shall be the aim and efforts of the Party to ensure that the unemployment rate does not go beyond acceptable limits.

The private sector is and must be the main source of employment for the nation’s labour force, given the limitations of the public sector. However, for the private sector to generate employment opportunities and to also attract and retain job seekers, it is important to create a conducive environment that includes appropriate labour laws and regulations, improved working conditions, job security, career advancement opportunities and post retirement benefits. A key condition that must be established is equal opportunity and non discrimination in the recruitment process. These shall be pursued in consultation with the private sector.

1.5.1. Promoting a knowledge based society
Youth training and employment

The growing number of educated youth is a vital resource for Bhutan to compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global environment and to meet the demands of the diverse sectors of the Bhutanese economy. We acknowledge youth employment as a major challenge, as well as an opportunity and will make it a special area of focus. Youth and employment will be given the highest priority. Opportunities for gainful employment for the youth will be promoted by formulating specific policies aimed at enhancing productivity, to support higher wage jobs in the economy. A skilled and competitive labour force will be built and enhanced through the expansion and improvement of technical vocational education and enterprise based training. Existing market failures in skills creation and capability development of the labour force will be corrected through a thorough review of the formal and vocational education and training policy.

1.5.2. Elevating education and skill levels
Making education and vocational training relevant

It is crucial to impart school leavers with basic employable skills. The education system, even at the tertiary level, is currently geared towards churning out job seekers rather than job creators. This leads to a mismatch of supply and demand. While the importance of education to attitudinal and skills development and building up of technological capability cannot be overstated, the education curriculum must be made more relevant. Students, especially from higher education institutes must be able to compete both in national and international job markets. We will increase access to Class XI and beyond as part of our employment policy to raise higher educational levels for a knowledge-based society. Career counselling in schools will be strengthened to help students choose careers based on their aptitude and to try and change the mindset of the youth towards working in the private sector and blue collared jobs.

We will continuously work to improve the skills and knowledge of our youth to enable them to find jobs in a fast growing economy. We will create more opportunities for vocational training for school leavers by improving and expanding the existing institutions and establishing a new one in the south. Higher minimum wages and salaries shall be established for blue collar jobs by implementing a national minimum wage structure. In addition to increasing access to vocational education, we will encourage and support entrepreneurial and apprenticeship programs. Entrepreneurial development activities will also be expanded to encourage self employment. In this regard, credit guarantee and business start-off schemes will be effectively employed.

1.5.3. Matching supply with demand
Market oriented approach to vocational training

The fundamental challenge in skills development is to balance the supply of skills with the demands of the labour market. If the demand is unsatisfied, skill bottlenecks impede growth and development. If the supply is not absorbed, unemployment and waste of scarce resources ensue. To prevent a mismatch between education and training, and employment needs and to ensure that the priorities and programmes of the education system and the vocational training programmes are in line with market demands, a market oriented planning approach to education curriculum, based on economic and labour market trends and the industrial policy will be adopted. Participation by the private sector in articulating which skills are in demand will be encouraged. There will be closer collaboration between the private sector, workers and the government to determine skill needs and the most effective ways of meeting them. Such collaboration will, beside the identification of skill needs, include the design of relevant curriculum. The linkages with prospective employers and the extent to which they are actually involved in advising and directing skills development, is of the utmost importance.

Labour markets demand change. Most training systems however are rigid and isolated from the market, continuing to churn out graduates with the same skills year after year regardless of their employment prospects. Expensive plant and specialized staff are the main reasons vocational institutions become supply driven, suffer from obsolescence, insularity, and improper orientation. We will however ensure dedicated investments in such programmes to provide adequate infrastructure and modern equipment. While investments in the necessary facilities and equipments carry with it an inherent tendency towards rigidity, we will ensure that training systems are flexible and responsive by introducing new training courses in response to market changes and the absorptive capacity of the market.

1.5.4. Improving information flow
One-stop job cafes and placement centres

We will establish the capacity to analyze market trends in terms of job creation and absorption, wage levels, waiting times for employment, etc. Tracer studies on the labour market outcomes of graduates over time will also be conducted so that adjustments can be made in training supply. We will ensure efficient dissemination of information to the public about employment trends. Employment services and other schemes designed to promote information flow will be established to improve the functioning of the labour market. Such services could include a ‘one-stop’ job placement centre or ‘job cafes’ set up in collaboration with local companies or schools, providing job information for young job seekers, checking the aptitude of applicants, providing counselling and job placement services. The labour market information system will be strengthened to include detailed statistics on the quality and quantity of jobs available in the labour market.

Reinforcing the second Pillar of GNH

2. Environmental Conservation

2.1. Environment: Staying Green

Bhutan is blessed with a relatively healthy per capita resource availability, thanks to its low population. The country has a green cover of about 72%, abundant fresh water resources and a rich biodiversity. However, due to the steep mountain terrain and harsh climatic conditions, arable land is limited as well as the area of forests ecologically viable for commercial extraction. Therefore, the farsighted policy promulgated by His Majesty the Fourth King to place conservation ahead of exploitation and thereby reap the long term benefits from hydropower generation and tourism rather than short-term economic gains from timber extraction, will be pursued and further strengthened. Bhutan has built an enviable reputation in the world community as a leader in environmental management and has meticulously cultivated an image of having a pristine environment. It is indeed this image of an environmental ‘Shangrila’ that attracts attention from our development partners and tourists. We will further consolidate Bhutan’s image as a world champion on environmental and conservation issues and preserve its unique natural and biological heritage. We recognize that the destiny and well-being of our country is intricately linked to the health of our environment in view of the mountainous terrain and ecological fragility and vulnerability to natural disasters. We will ensure that our environmental health is safeguarded and will reduce our vulnerability to man-made and natural disasters.

We will continue playing a leadership role in the global and regional arena on environmental issues with a set agenda on climate change, ozone depletion and atmospheric (industrial) pollution in general. Such a stance is necessary and essential as we have a very fragile mountain eco-system and as in reality the environment is one single unit that transcends national boundaries. A high level team will be established for the study of and negotiation of carbon trading and other financially rewarding environmental service schemes such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). We resolve to support and further strengthen the National Environment Commission (NEC) to enable it to better carry out its responsibility in the formulation and enforcement of environment policies and regulations. We will promote partnerships between the government, communities, private sector and civil societies to address environmental issues and concerns in a holistic manner.

2.1.1. Sharing the bounty of forests
Community access to forest resources

We will use community and private forests as an important strategy for rural employment and income generation. We will provide an enabling environment for communities to engage in sustainable harvesting and use of non-timber forest products. This will include the identification and introduction of appropriate technology, sustainable use practices and linkages to markets.

We will ensure that all protected forests in ecologically vulnerable and water catchments areas of major rivers are demarcated and will accordingly place them under state management. We will allot user rights and responsibility for management of forests and forest-based resources such as sokshing, pastures, timber, sand and stones to local communities within boundaries as determined and established by the local government and in keeping with the Local Governance Act 2007.

2.1.2. Conserving water resources
Sustainable exploitation of water resources

Cognisant of the fact that water resources are diminishing rapidly, both locally and globally, as a result of climate change and global warming, we will develop a clear policy and strategy for its sustainable exploitation and conservation. An appropriate agency, existing or new, shall be given the responsibility for water policies, coordination and management issues. While we will continue to invest in hydropower development, we also recognise the need to plough back revenue from hydropower and other water based industries into a watershed management fund. Besides hydroelectricity we will also explore and attract and enable foreign investment for diversification in the exploitation of our water resources, such as the export of bottled water. We will provide clean drinking water to all citizens by end of the 10th five year plan and provide reliable irrigation water for agriculture. We will also remain sensitive to the riparian rights of our neighbouring countries and will harness our rivers responsibly.

2.1.3. Maintaining biodiversity
Safeguarding our flora and fauna

We will further enhance the image of the country as a biodiversity hotspot by ensuring the protection of species and their habitats. We will promote mass participation of people in conservation programmes through awareness creation, incentives and benefit sharing mechanisms. We will minimise the disturbance to critical habitats and ecosystems through appropriate compensation mechanisms to affected communities and parties. We will judiciously undertake bio-prospecting and opportunities for engaging in bio-trading as permissible under national and international laws and strengthen the capacity of the National Biodiversity Programme to coordinate the use, conservation and management of biodiversity.

2.1.4. Keeping our neighbourhood clean
Waste management and pollution control

Waste management is increasingly becoming a major problem, both in the urban and rural areas, and directly undermines our sincere environmental conservation efforts. The NEC shall be responsible for policy directives, monitoring and evaluation, while the municipal corporations, dzongkhag administrations and various other agencies will be delegated the responsibility of dealing with urban waste and pollution. A national strategy for garbage management and pollution control will be drawn up focussing on subsidies for recycling plants, rules and regulations for garbage separation and disposal, liquid waste disposal, air pollution standards, emission controls and subsidies for environment friendly hybrid vehicles. Advocacy on waste disposal measures, such as the inculcation of waste reduction in the minds of young children as a social responsibility and garbage sorting and recycling, will be strongly promoted.

Revitalising the third pillar of GNH

3. Preservation and Promotion of Culture

3.1. Culture: Enriching Life

Gross National Happiness is about promoting and achieving good quality of life in an equitable and sustainable way. It is about culture and the way we live life as human beings, families and as a society. It has to do with values that we aspire for individually and collectively and in turn condition our life.

We will improve the quality of life of every individual and community in Bhutan by enriching individual lives and transforming communities, towns and cities into vibrant and secure environments, within which our children and elderly will thrive. We believe in the inherent values of culture, sports and recreation and the role they play in the vitalization of communities, families and individuals. Discrimination of any sort will be tackled and we will work hard to promote equality and to ensure everyone, young and old, has the chance to contribute to the health and vitality of our society. Efforts will be stepped up to spread prosperity and opportunity to improve housing, revive dying communities and lift people out of poverty, so that all of us have the highest quality of life attainable.

3.1.1. Maintaining unity in Diversity
Promoting and preserving culture

Inspite of our small size, our country is rich in a variety of cultures, languages, dialects, religions, customs and traditions. This diversity is a cultural wealth all Bhutanese should be proud of and from which we can draw inspiration to enrich our lives and to cement national unity. We pledge to honour and promote this diversity for all times to come. We are committed to preserving and promoting our age old cultural wealth and heritage and pass it on to succeeding generations. We will ensure harmony and understanding among various sections of the society irrespective of ethnicity, faith, language and customs.

We will allocate the necessary resources for further developing Dzongkha into a dynamic and user-friendly language. We will strengthen scientific and business education in the English language keeping in view its role and importance in a globalized world. We will allocate adequate resources to document and promote the use and survival of all other languages and dialects.

Measures to strengthen the institution of family and community will be promoted. We shall also promote and enrich the other dimensions of Bhutanese culture such as art, literature, festivals, music, architecture, sports, etc. Further we shall promote a greater understanding and advocacy of our GNH culture and philosophy and seek to operationalize it, in all spheres of our lives.

3.1.2. Calling upon women to lead
Supporting women and children

Bhutanese women have always enjoyed equal rights as men. However, women have often been confined to stereotypical gender roles and continue to be under-represented in the decision-making process. We will ensure that our culture of gender equality is preserved and strengthened and that any prevailing anomalies do not become accepted norms. Gender equity will be promoted in economic, social and political spheres and where necessary, special incentives will be provided to enable women participation in local governance, national politics and in civil society. We will support the implementation of gender mainstreaming in each sector and carry out research on gender issues and collect disaggregated data and create awareness.

Encouraged by the positive response of women all over the country to the political process, and confident that they are now ready to assert themselves and assume a larger role in government, we pledge a significantly higher level of participation by women in the next round of elections.

We recognize the concerns of women and children such as the rising rates of child abuse, divorce, substance abuse and alcoholism. Stronger enforcement of laws pertaining to domestic violence and provide support for the girl child will be ensured while empowering women and children with behavioural training and professional counselling. Appropriate legislation and policies to protect and strengthen the rights and welfare of women and children, especially those confronting violent environments, including domestic violence shall be enacted. A special effort shall be made to enable greater female enrolment in all levels of the education system, especially at the secondary and tertiary level, and in vocational schools, by improving awareness and sensitivity to their needs. The lowering of the early school drop out incidence among women will also receive our highest priority. We will strengthen and provide holistic support to the existing mechanisms and institutions, especially the non-governmental organisations.

3.1.3. Aging with grace and dignity
Caring for the elderly

Urbanization, increased mobility and its resultant strains on the extended family structure are slowly but certainly edging out the aged, to the margins of society. Veneration for the wisdom of the old is waning as modern ways place less value on traditional knowledge and thoughts. Remedial measures must be taken before it is too late and before the core of our society suffers from wider neglect. Beyond altruism, we need to remind ourselves that the young and healthy of today will, tomorrow, become the victims of the same neglect that we perpetrate on our senior citizens.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa will promote integration and inclusion of the aged, building respect for them and engaging them in innovative ways to contribute to society. Special measures to promote spiritual, emotional and physiological wellbeing of the aged through family and community based care will be undertaken while stimulating voluntarism and NGO participation. Steps will be taken to strengthen formal and informal networks, local authorities and civil societies and to institute voluntary mechanisms aimed at creating a caring and compassionate society. Various options such as advocacy and even legislation shall be examined so that the aged are not orphaned and marginalized by society and to counter the growing indifference and apathy that is beginning to appear in families.

3.1.4. Being compassionate
Taking care of the physically challenged and the vulnerable

We will introduce legislation and policy measures to respect, protect and aid the underprivileged and the disabled. Such laws shall include special health and education services and legal protection. Programmes shall be put in place to mainstream people with disabilities and to draw up strategies for their dignified rehabilitation. Likewise, appropriate laws and support systems shall be put in place for the deprived so that no one is abandoned, homeless or driven to begging and other indignities.

In adhering to the principles of GNH, ways and means shall be explored and devised to strengthen our extended family network as the most viable and sustainable social safety net. We will help build a network of volunteers and NGOs at the national and community levels to support this natural system with technical, logistical and financial help. To this end, we will use existing social institutions such as the monasteries and nunneries to be complemented by NGOs for a mutually satisfying and gratifying collaboration.

3.1.5. Preparing for growing urbanization
Improving the quality of urban life

Urban Bhutan is our future and it is predicted that by the year 2020 more than half of the Bhutanese people will be living in towns. Hence high priority will be accorded to proper town planning and urban development keeping in mind the present as well as the future generations. Adequate public spaces for recreation, worship, greenery and other needs will be created and maintained. Home ownership will be encouraged and town centres and green spaces improved. Our traditional architecture will be maintained, and possibilities of blending modern building materials and technology with traditional designs will be explored. We will invest to improve housing and to regenerate town centres and communities. Stringent safety standards to mitigate the effects of natural disasters like earthquake, fire and floods, will be enforced. We will establish a system of managing wastes and sanitary facilities to reduce public health hazards and exposure to pollution and diseases. The municipal authorities, especially in Thimphu and Phuentsholing will be strengthened to ensure efficient and effective services.

Existing libraries will be revamped and new and modern libraries built where new services like childcare, after school education for pupils and IT learning, will be delivered. We will develop a strategy for the modernisation of our libraries and sharpen their customer focus. We will encourage further cooperation in back office functions and identify new ways to improve our library infrastructure.

3.1.6. Curbing social ills
Getting tough on drug abuse and alcoholism

Drug abuse and alcoholism among the youth is a growing concern for parents and society, primarily because of the adverse effects it has on the youth, our nation’s future and the socially dysfunctional behaviour that it spawns. Communities know that drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption fuels anti-social behaviour and violence. We will be tough on the sale of illicit drugs and its misuse. Random compulsory drugs testing in schools and public places like bars and clubs, will be conducted, with compulsory treatment and rehabilitation for those who test positive. Police and other concerned agencies will be accorded appropriate support to facilitate and make it easier to deal with troublesome bars and clubs. Extra policing will be instituted, with penalties for premises selling alcohol to under aged patrons. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa shall not be a passive bystander and allow the youth to fall victim to drug abuse and alcoholism. Stringent measures to prevent and rehabilitate users and punish sellers will be aggressively enforced.

Necessary measures to create awareness in schools and colleges on the ill effects of drug abuse and alcoholism, will be adopted. The youth justice system will be overhauled and proper counselling and correctional facilities to address juvenile crimes will be created. Youth rehabilitation centres and youth development centres will be strengthened and expanded in close collaboration with non-governmental organisations. The emergence and establishment of volunteer organisations that will supplement government efforts to address these problems will be supported. We will enlist the help of parents and non-governmental organisations to deal with the most persistent young offenders, and institute programmes targeted at young people most at risk of offending and will expand drug-treatment services for young people.

3.1.7. Investing in the health of mind and body
Broaden opportunities for sports and recreation

Sports are an integral part of Bhutanese life and culture. While archery is our national sport, many other sports attract thousands of participants, some with large audiences and international attention. Participation in sports and other physical activities is an investment in our nation’s health and well being. Sports help our young ones stay active and away from other undesirable social vices. We will therefore broaden and deepen opportunities for sports activities and competitions for all age groups.

Investment in school sports and facilities shall be undertaken to ensure that all school children receive high quality physical education. More competitive sports in schools will be encouraged so that students have a chance to compete and excel. The establishment of a facility for sports instructors to train our children both within and outside institutions shall be considered. The construction of modern high quality sports and recreational facilities in large urban areas shall receive special attention so that people have easier access to good multi-sport facilities.

3.1.8. Ensuring safer communities
Maintaining law and order

Development offers freedoms and opportunities unheralded a generation ago. But with new freedom come new fears and threats to our security. To counter these threats we need strong communities built on mutual respect and the rule of law. The challenges of growing crime – rape, domestic violence, murder, desecration of temples, robbery, etc., in our land of peace and happiness are disturbing signs of our departure from the path of GNH. While liberty of the individual must be prized, it should not be enjoyed at the cost of the safety and security of the law-abiding majority. An individual is safe and secure only when there are law-abiding neighbours. We shall address these challenges by forming a committee of experts from both within and outside the country to develop a package of proposals that shall combine advocacy and media, volunteerism, NGO role, school curriculum, community and neighbourhoods, legislation, law enforcement, etc.

Various regulatory and vigilance authorities shall be strengthened and stringent enforcement of laws and regulations on night-time recreational and entertainment facilities shall be conducted. We will support the modernisation of the police force and provide them with the necessary resources so that it becomes even more competent and respected to command the trust and confidence of citizens. Public education and awareness of national policies and legislations shall be promoted so as to create a law abiding and responsible population.

3.1.9. Balancing spiritual and material development
Espousing spiritual growth

The central tenet of GNH is that the pursuit of happiness must begin with a conscious effort to balance material gains with spiritual growth. It is about balancing the needs of the body with those of the mind. In doing so, one begins to understand the meaning and purpose of life and is able to set a meaningful paradigm within which one can find contentment and the motivation to help others in their search for happiness. Religion, or a moral and ethical frame, at the very least, thus becomes essential. To this end, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa will support and promote various religious institutions to preserve and strengthen the spiritual growth and nourishment of our people.

Consolidating the fourth Pillar of GNH

4. Good Governance

4.1. Good Governance: Our Sacred Responsibility

4.1.1. Friendly and accessible government
Keeping government small

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa will maintain the size of the cabinet at 10 ministries only. We believe that good governance and small government are synonymous and shall commit ourselves to preventing the system from becoming cumbersome, distended and self serving. In doing so, we will assign cabinet portfolios to a mix of senior and experienced ministers with young and dynamic new ministers based on intellectual and professional competence.

Searching for ways and means to improve the functioning of government will be a constant endeavour. Guided by the highest code of ethics, integrity and democratic principles, we shall persevere to keep government simple, friendly and accessible and shall keep public convenience and economy high on our mind.

Measures will be introduced to minimize paper work, simplify the decision-making process and enhance efficiency and effectiveness. We will promote and facilitate e-governance to quicken the pace of objective decision making and to improve the delivery of services. We will institute mandatory measures to make government more transparent and accountable through various innovative means including making documents accessible to the media and public. Open discussions will be held with the people on various issues of direct public interest so that we achieve the dual purpose of informing and being guided. We will make public the government budget, all government plans and policies except those with national security implications, so that the public is aware of what the government is doing at all times.

4.1.2. Independent and professional civil service
Small, compact and efficient civil service

If Bhutan has reasons to be proud of her achievements under the visionary leadership of our Kings and His Majesty the King, then due credit must be given to the civil servants for the dedication and commitment with which they have served the King, country and people at all times. Indeed, the Bhutanese civil service is among the most disciplined and competent in the world and has been admired for being as such. We believe that regardless of which party gains the mandate to govern, the civil service as an apolitical machinery, will continue to serve with the same zeal and spirit. In fact, it will be civil servants who will bear the larger burden of ensuring the fulfilment of the pledges made by the ruling political party.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is fully committed to protecting the independence of the civil service and its efforts to continually raise the efficiency and professionalism of the bureaucracy. We will reinforce the policy of a “small, compact and efficient” civil service by further streamlining recruitment, promotion and separation procedures. We will make the civil service a highly respected, well motivated and upright body of professionals, committed to the highest standards of service, integrity and meritocracy. We will introduce a reward and recognition system for outstanding officials so as to motivate others to emulate and improve their performance.

4.1.2.1. Financially rewarding remuneration

We will support the Pay Commission in structuring the salaries and benefit packages, including retirement benefits, to attract and retain the best of the best in the civil service and the government at large. The Commission will be required to review and revise the existing travel allowances and daily subsistence allowance for in-country and ex-country travel on a periodic basis to ensure that civil servants travelling both inside and outside the country do not face any financial hardship and are able to represent the country and their office in a befitting manner. We will continue to explore avenues for continuously training and re-training our civil servants both within and outside the country, whether on a cost sharing basis or fully funded by our development partners and interested institutions.

4.1.2.2. Ensuring administrative equity

We will ensure that all citizens receive equal treatment through strong emphasis on transparency in decision making process on all matters in the larger interest of security, peace and harmony in the country. We will work towards finding a just, speedy and durable solution to the problem of the people in the camps in Nepal.

All government agencies interacting with the public will open one-stop service windows to facilitate and enhance service delivery. We will also streamline procedures to access service and make it mandatory for all agencies to set time limits for decision making at all levels, on matters affecting day to day life. We will institute a system, along the lines of an ombudsman to facilitate the objective and professional redressal of grievances and difficulties faced by civil servants and people.

4.1.2.3. Prompt and effective service delivery

In order to lower costs and to ensure that the focus of the executive is directed at its core competencies only, we will consider outsourcing several identified non-core functions of the executive to specialized entities in the private sector. This could include services such as provision of civic amenities, public relations, media and advertising, transportation, customer support and services, market research, information communication and technology, human resource management, real estate management, event management, facility maintenance, cleaning and minor security services etc.

Outsourcing would allow the executive to make more efficient use of technology and resources and more importantly, to promote the private sector. Normally, where service delivery is concerned, the private sector is more efficient and effective, generally leading to lower costs. This is because outsourcing addresses the issues of and realizes the benefits from cost savings, quality of service delivery, operational expertise, staffing issues, standardizing business processes and customer satisfaction. It leads to a lowering of the overall cost of the delivery of the service as it offers a move from fixed to variable cost and also makes variable costs more predictable. It also opens up access to operational best practices that would be too difficult or time consuming to develop in-house, and also to a larger talent pool.

An in depth study on outsourcing will be conducted to identify all the functions that could be removed from the domain of the civil services and outsourced to the private sector. The required enforcement capacity will be put in place to ascertain the capacity of the private sector to effectively deliver these identified public services efficiently and monitor the quality of the services delivered. A policy framework and implementation strategy including mechanisms to ensure that the services provided through this arrangement are delivered in the desired manner will be developed and outsourcing will be initiated.

4.1.3. Impartial and expeditious justice
Ensuring equal protection of and treatment by the law

We are wholly committed to the administration of fair, transparent and impartial justice by the judiciary and will ensure that all people are entitled to equal protection of the law and equal treatment by the law. To ensure the effective implementation of laws and provide easier access to justice, we will support the independence of the judiciary in providing fair, transparent, impartial and expeditious justice within the scope of the existing laws and procedures. The expansion of benches in the larger Dzongkhag courts to provide expeditious justice will be supported. The family and juvenile benches in Thimphu and Phuentsholing courts that provide women and children friendly judicial services will also receive our undivided support. The existing informal dispute settlement mechanisms at the gewog and community levels as well as the existing arbitration and adjudication bodies in various areas will be strengthened. We avow to ensure equal access to legal support and protection of law through legislation to protect the legally disadvantaged as a result of poverty, pro bono legal support to the disadvantaged and effective dissemination of laws and regulations to create awareness of the rights as well as duties of citizens.

4.1.4. Transparent and effective constitutional bodies
Respecting and strengthening constitutional bodies

We will respect and support the independence of all constitutional bodies and strengthen them by ensuring that only persons of the highest integrity of character and proven performance and competence are appointed to head such bodies. We will allocate the necessary human and financial resources to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) to enable them to effectively carry out their mandates. We will clearly delineate the jurisdiction of these constitutional bodies, within the framework of the Constitution, in order to facilitate transparency and maintain the checks and balances that these bodies are set up to provide.

We recognise the need to facilitate voting and improve voter turnout, but more importantly to ensure political responsibility, accountability and representation. Democracy has no meaning if large numbers of eligible voters in the country are deprived of the opportunity and fundamental right to cast their votes, because of economic considerations and logistical inconveniences. We will therefore strive to ensure that all eligible voters are not denied their constitutionally granted right to choose their political representation by providing and promoting more convenient and affordable facilities. We will also support the strengthening of the Election Commission of Bhutan to enable it to carry out its functions as per its mandate and continue educating the people, not only on the electoral process but also on the finer aspects of democracy, so elections are totally free, fair and without corruption.

4.1.5. Eradicating the bane of society
Fighting corruption

Corruption is the bane of most developing countries and the primary reason for the underdevelopment and misery of nations. Like an incurable cancer, unless rooted out from the very beginning, it multiplies and never ceases to grow until it has wasted the very moral fibre of society. It is a social evil that impedes economic growth, induces inequality, deepens poverty, breeds injustice and finally resulting in the exploitation of the poor. While it is the collective responsibility of every Bhutanese to act against corruption, only the Royal Government has the authority and tools to punish those who engage in corrupt practices. In this regard, we believe that the prevention of corruption begins with the electoral process itself since the values and means by which a party comes to power will condition the way in which it will govern.

The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is fully committed to the eradication of corruption in all its ugly forms such as outright bribery, favouritism, nepotism, misuse of power and influence, intimidation and generally unequal treatment of people. Our country with its small population and scarce resources cannot afford corruption. We will fight corruption without fear or favour. We will promote public education, including in schools and special advocacy programmes to increase people’s awareness as a strategy for prevention of corruption. We will ensure transparency and accountability and institute check and balance instruments. Concerted efforts will be made to expedite the process of investigation, prosecution and trial and the uniform application of the laws on all citizens alike as far as corruption is concerned. Systemic reviews and simplification of rules and regulations will be undertaken as an important anti-corruption strategy. We will support the ACC and the RAA to identify the causes and forms of corruption and to ascertain the extent and levels of corruption so that a comprehensive and realistic anti-corruption strategy and implementation plan can be formulated.

4.1.6. Keeping you informed
Free and responsible media

A strong and independent media plays an important role in the democratization process. The potential of the media to inform people on issues of social and national significance, stir public debate, shape opinion and contribute to the overall political discourse cannot be understated. The growth of a free and responsible media will receive our full encouragement and support. We will provide access to information to the public and media on all issues except that which concerns national sovereignty and security.

4.1.7. Strengthening decentralisation
Empowering local communities

The power to make decisions that affect the lives of the people must rest with those who are closest to the people. It must be with those who are trusted and elected by the people and who in turn can be directly held accountable locally. The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa shall respect the democratic institutional arrangements that were created for this purpose and as enshrined in the Constitution.

We are fully committed to decentralisation and to respecting the responsibility of local governments to own and control local level development and to deliver local services. The local governments have the responsibility of identifying development priorities as well as the decision-making powers and the financial authority delegated to them to carry out decentralized activities. The capacity of the local governments to plan and implement programmes with transparency and accountability will be strengthened. Empowering of local communities and strengthening of decentralisation is a necessary aspect of democracy and make sound management sense.

In light of the foregoing, we believe that the role of the MPs is not to replace the gups or the Chairmen of the Dzongkhag Tshogdus to the extent that they pre-empt the functions of elected local governments. Unless this is clear in our minds, we are convinced that the policy of decentralization and with it, the essence of true democracy, will fall victim to the over eagerness of the parties and the Parliamentarians to directly serve their voters. This will lead to centralization or actual reversal of the democratic process and politicization of local governments which would be in contravention of the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

The role of MPs in local development will be one that is supportive and facilitative. At the same time, they must be fully conversant with and be sensitive to the needs and problems of the people in their constituencies. For this purpose, our representatives (MPs) will visit their constituencies at least twice a year and spend time with the people. This will enable them to make the best possible inputs toward ensuring that local needs and priorities are properly and correctly addressed through legislation and through the planning and budgetary processes. They must also play a strong part in ensuring that the Cabinet and government agencies are well informed and educated on the affairs of their constituencies and make timely interventions in the Parliament and in the various decision making processes at the national level. Furthermore, our MPs and constituency representatives will play an active non- partisan role in the villages and interact with local leaders and support local governments in the fulfilment of their mandate.

4.1.8. Protecting lives and property
Developing disaster management capacity and preparedness

We will develop and strengthen the disaster management capacity of the country by establishing a full fledged organization with adequate capacity for the mitigation of threats arising from natural disasters (e.g. rapidly withdrawing glaciers, Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods and earthquakes). Populations directly threatened by environmental degradation will be immediately resettled with special incentives. We will also prepare a plan of action to deal with other emergencies that may arise from outbreak of diseases, famines or social unrests.

4.1.9. Holding our place in the world
Promoting regional and international cooperation

We are committed to working with all nations and organizations to promote the wellbeing of all mankind, world peace, and progress. We will continue to attach the highest importance to bilateral and multilateral relations and play an active role in promoting regional and international understanding and cooperation. In this regard, we value and appreciate the immense contribution of our donor community towards the development of our country and our Party will further strengthen our relations with them and seek their continued goodwill and support. We will promote the image and profile of our country and advance goodwill and friendship with other countries and organizations. We will pursue membership and become signatory to all relevant international and regional conventions on the basis of an understanding of their ramifications. We shall remain faithful to Bhutan’s neutrality and principled position in the international arena. We will continue to employ GNH as a powerful, safe and effective vehicle for promotion of foreign policy and will promote the philosophy as a development paradigm for a more sustainable, equitable, peaceful and happier world.

We will accord the highest priority to maintaining and furthering the excellent relations with the people and the Government of India. We will carry forward the exemplary and mutually beneficial cooperation that is the hallmark of our relations and deepen our economic ties.

We will mobilize the resources for the 10th five year plan from existing as well as new donors and we have the confidence that the donor community will extend their full support to the first democratically elected government to ensure the confidence of the people in the institution of democracy. We will explore markets for our goods and services by developing trade relations within and outside the region.

4.1.10. The custodian of our national security

The people of Bhutan will never forget the courage and loyalty displayed by our armed forces under the selfless leadership of our beloved Drukgyal Zhipa, when the nation faced the most serious threat to its sovereignty from foreign militants in 2003.We pledge our continued trust in our armed forces to play the most important role of safeguarding the peace, security and sovereignty of our country. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa shall always extend full support for the strengthening and wellbeing of the armed forces. We are forever indebted and grateful to His Majesty the Drukgyal Zhipa and the armed forces.

Conclusion

The basis for the policies, plans and programs of our party have been laid down in this manifesto. The more urgent needs of the people will be addressed from the very beginning of our term and the greatest effort will be made to complete most of the basic social infrastructure within the 10th Five Year Plan period. Some of the activities, whilst important may, depending on the complexity and size, spill into future plans. What is important is that we recognize the problems and prepare a plan of action to address them.

This manifesto, while comprehensive, is not a static document and will be updated from time to time to take into consideration emerging needs and issues. It forms only the basis upon which national policies and plans will be formulated, taking into account the changing realities of a dynamic Bhutan in a globalizing world.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa is fully committed to ensuring a successful democracy, an equitable and just society, a peaceful and happy nation, and a secure and sovereign country. We are committed to the creation of the conditions and environment necessary for the realization of Gross National Happiness. In the discharge of our duties, we shall, at all times, display the highest of respect and love for the people and promote equity and justice in everything that we undertake.

We shall always uphold the sacred institution of the Monarchy and the person of His Majesty the King with the highest of reverence and allegiance as the fountainhead of justice and the symbol of our nation’s sovereignty and unity. Druk Phuensum Tshogpa and our supporters pledge our unwavering loyalty to the Tsawa Sum.

Tashi Delek!