… Initials talks held for 13th Plan too

Tshering Palden 

India has released almost 86 percent of the Nu 45 billion that it has committed to the 12th Plan, according to the Prime Minister.

“Such a speedy and efficient release of funds has not happened in the earlier Plans. We thanked them and conveyed that we are looking forward to the same efficiency,” Lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen said that issues including the pending ones were resolved since the delegation was led by the foreign secretary who is an official with authority.

The Indian side conveyed that the remaining committed budget for the 12th Plan would be released as soon as possible.

The 13th Plan would also be ready in another four months, Lyonchhen said. “It may seem we are late in formulating the Plan but it’ll be delivered in time.”

Lyonchhen said that going by the current practice the country loses three months for elections between the end of the government’s term and before the elected party takes office. “Moreover, the first and the last years of the government’s term see a decline in activities which subsequently result in a fall of Gross Domestic Product,” he said.

He said that such a slowdown needs to be avoided and with trusted development partners like India the funding mechanism could continue evenly without having to stick to the Plan.

The Indian delegation expressed support for the Prime Minister’s suggestion. “The secretary said that ‘we’re here to support your interests and ideas’.”

This is the first stand-alone visit of Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra after he assumed the post.

Lyonchhen said that the 13th Plan should be able to carry on the vision of the reforms that are ongoing. “Since this is the first Plan since the initiation of the transformation, it is critical and the focus will be on the economy.”

In the 12th Plan, the emphasis is on return on investment be it donor-funded or other planned activities and will also see a change in the budgeting system to an accrual method. “If we make an investment, the Plan will have what would be the productivity or return on investment.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Kwatra led the Indian delegation to the 12th Plan talks and Foreign Secretary Pema Choden led the Bhutanese side to the Plan talk meeting.

Secretary Kwatra, who was in the country on a three-day visit, also co-chaired the Fourth Bhutan-India Development Cooperation Talks of the 12th Plan along with Foreign Secretary Pema Choden. The GOI expressed satisfaction with the post-Covid-19 progress of projects and assured the Bhutan government of smooth releases of funds in a time-bound manner.

A press release from the foreign ministry stated, during the talks, the two sides noted with satisfaction the progress of the implementation of Gol’s assistance to Bhutan in the current Plan. The Bhutanese side expressed appreciation of the Royal government and the people of Bhutan to the GoI for its unwavering and generous support of Bhutan’s development, including the current Plan.