The 12th Plan aims for a just, harmonious and sustainable society through enhanced decentralisation, according to Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC).

Chief of development cooperation division, Wangchuk Namgay, said that the plan focuses more on the society and that it is a “people-centric plan.” The plan was shared during the recent high-level talk with the delegation from Denmark in Thimphu.

“We had decentralisation since 1981 but it was mostly in the form of decision-making and not really devolving the management of funds,” he said. “In the 12th Plan we are of the opinion that even the management of funds and implementation of plan activities of the local government should go to the local government,” he said.

Wangchuk Namgay said that the Plan would empower local governments through the provision of greater financial, planning and administrative responsibility and authority. The government will enhance resource allocation, improve public service delivery and capacity building.

The total indicative budget for the 12th Plan is about Nu 300 billion. “Of this, a huge chunk, about Nu 185 billion, will go for recurring costs as we’ve to maintain what we’ve built so far,” he said.

About Nu 115 billion is allocated for capital works – Nu 50B each for central agencies, and local governments.

“In the past, the central agencies handled about 80 percent of the budget and the local governments were given only 20 percent,” he said. “In the 12th Plan, the budget distribution is equal. That’s is why building the capacity of the local government is important.”

Of the Nu 50B to the local government, Nu 25B will be for the 20 dzongkhags, Nu 10B for gewogs, another Nu 10B for the four thromdes and Nu 5B for 16 other municipalities.

Another key feature of the Plan is the flagship programmes, which is allocated Nu 15B for economic diversification, integrated water security, and improving the livelihood of the highlanders.

The flagship programme is the top priority of the Plan where numerous sectors work together. “These are subject to change as more could be added to the list,” he said.

He said that the country has been focused on hydropower and that the next Plan will diversify the economy.

“In terms of per capita water availability we have the highest, but in terms of access we’re not really good,” he said.

Highlanders have harsh life without access to basic facilities and the next Plan prioritised improving their lives.

The GNHC has consulted the Constitution, His Majesty The King’s addresses, the Vision 2020, strategy for Gross National Happiness, the results of the GNH 2015 survey, 11th Plan mid-term review, international and regional goals including the Sustainable Development Goals, and stakeholders.

“Unlike before, a wide range of consultations were done including with the political parties,” Wangchuk Namgay said.

For the purpose of the plan, a just society is defined as one where every citizen has equitable access to resources and opportunities to pursue and realise individual and national aspirations.

To achieve this, the priorities in the 12th Plan are reducing poverty and inequality, creating productive and gainful employment, improving access to quality health and education services, strengthening democracy and decentralisation, reducing corruption, improving justice system, and promoting gender equality.

The plan prioritises preserving and promoting culture and tradition, maintaining a healthy eco-system, enhancing carbon neutral and climate resilient development, and promoting healthy and caring society to promote a harmonious society.

The Plan will ensure macroeconomic stability, enhancing diversity and productive capacities, ensure water, food and nutrition security, improve effectiveness and efficiency in public service delivery and ensure livability, safety and sustainability of human settlements to maintain a sustainable society. “These priorities are categorised into 16 national key results,” he said.

Each agency has key results areas where the agencies state what they have to achieve in the next five years, which contribute to the national key results areas for maximising GNH, the ultimate objective.

Once the key results areas are developed, the ministries or sector agencies develop their central programs, he said.

“At present, we’re developing the key programs of the central agencies,” Wangchuk Namgay said.

Another key feature of the 12th Plan is to achieve the whole framework through coordination, consolidation, and collaboration.

“Until the 11th Plan, we’ve been expanding and we’ve been building a lot of facilities including in education and health,” he said.

In the next plan rather than expanding, the country has to maintain what it has for optimal utilisation of facilities, he said.

Tshering Palden