The last mile of the country’s journey towards LDC graduation which is the 12th Five Year Plan, must prove that economic growth is possible without destroying the country’s environment and culture while ensuring a good governance system.
The country will then reveal to the world that a balanced, sustainable, holistic and inclusive development is achievable with the concerted efforts of leaders, agencies, developing partners and individuals working towards a common goal.
The emphasis, therefore, according to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) secretary Thinley Namgyel is on the triple Cs- coordination, consolidation and collaboration.
He said that the 12th Plan draws its inspiration from Royal Addresses, constitutional obligations, GNH survey findings, issues and challenges, and Bhutan’s commitment to internationally agreed development goals.
Coordination, he said, is one of the main challenges today emerging across various levels. Lack of coordination, synergies in efforts, overlapping provisions in some of the policies and duplications are creating difficulties in implementation.
The guideline for preparation of the 12th Plan, which was launched yesterday states that the Plan provides an opportunity to address these issues with a focus on strengthening institutions, systems, capacity building and enhancing the quality of goods and services.
The strategic framework of the Nu 300 billion 12th Plan, is to ensure that what is planned is delivered in a manner that maximises GNH principles.
“This is being done to ensure that some of the important elements of GNH such as psychological well-being, community vitality and time use, get the desired focus,” the guideline states.
The triple Cs
The guideline mandates that coordination, collaboration and consolidation are ensured at all levels.
One of the main challenges today is the lack of policy coordination and coordination at the implementation level. Consequently, conflicting laws and policies, duplication of efforts and resources continue to trouble the country.
The GNHC secretary said that the formulation process of the 12th Plan ensures engagement of all stakeholders including the local government. “This will strengthen the working relations and thus allow for better coordination,” he said.
The 12th Plan will also focus more on the effective and efficient operation and maintenance of infrastructures already in place, instead of expansion.
As the country begins to shed its LDC tag, there will be an eventual decline in official development assistance and therefore the role of the private sector, civil society organisations and developing partners will increase.
As a result, strengthening cooperation in the areas of mutually beneficial projects will be inevitable. Regional cooperation in trade, transit and energy is expected to give rise to new technologies and opportunities.
Key result areas and flagship programmes
The national key results areas (NKRAs) have been formulated based on national aspirations, priorities and international and regional commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
There are 16 NKRAs that contribute to a just, harmonious and sustainable society through decentralisation. These NKRAs are also aligned with all the domains and indicators of GNH in addition to the SDGs.
For instance, for a just society, the priorities are to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, provide employment, ensure better access to health and education, strengthening of democracy and reducing corruption, among others.
However, 80 percent of the outlay prepared by the relevant agencies will be “tied” meaning the plan for these projects will have to be ready by the beginning of the 12th Plan. The remaining 20 percent of the outlay will be “untied” to provide flexibility to the agencies to accommodate ad-hoc or unplanned activities on an annual basis.
Integrated water security, economic diversification, quality of education and improving highland livelihood programmes are outlined as tentative flagship programmes of the 12th Plan.
Flagship programmes are accorded high priority as they would impact the majority of the NKRAs.
This programme will however mandate a blueprint, rigorous monitoring and will receive an earmarked fund.
While domestic revenues in the 12th Plan are expected to increase by almost 100 percent due to the commissioning of three hydropower projects, current expenditure is also expected to increase significantly by about 75 percent.
The main challenge of the 12th Plan is to rationalise and manage the expenditure because until the new hydropower projects are commissioned the revenue will remain constant while the current expenditure will keep increasing.
Of the Nu 115 billion (B) capital budget outlay, Nu 15B is earmarked for flagship programmes and Nu 50B for central agencies.
Another Nu 50B is allocated for the local government. Of this budget, around Nu 10B has been allocated to the four thromdes, Nu 25B for the dzongkhags, Nu 10B for the gewogs and Nu 5B for 16 municipalities.
While the government will frame the 12th Plan, it will be up to the next government whether to follow the planned activities, modify the Plan or completely replace it.