Plan will be ready: Government

Dechen Dolkar

In a normal period, by this time of the Plan period, the Gross National Happiness Commission, the planning branch of the government, would have presented the progress of the plan preparation to the Cabinet.

The preparation of the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) has been delayed. The recently-dissolved GNHC has completed only the draft concept notes for the 13th Plan. The draft concept note should be approved by March this year. The current, 12th Plan will be completed by October 31, 2023, which is a year from now.

The government attributed the delay to the reforms and restructuring in the civil service agencies.

As per the tentative schedule for 13th Plan, consultation and drafting of the plan or technical guidelines and presentation to GNHC and Cabinet should have started by April this year. By June this year the plan and technical guidelines should be circulated for initial plan formulation by agencies and local government.

The preliminary drafting of the plan and presentation to the Cabinet should start by December this year. The final draft presentation and submission of the plan to the Cabinet should be done by July, next year.

According to officials, the draft plan should be ready three months before the government’s tenure ends.

However, officials in the government are confident that the Plan will be ready. 

The cabinet director, Chencho, said that the planning role of the erstwhile GNHC is merged with the cabinet secretariat and the team is now working on the conceptual framework, process and guidelines for the 13th Plan, which should be done within two to three months.

“The plan will be ready in a year,” the director said.

What political parties say

Opposition Leader (OL), Dorji Wangdi, is concerned by the delay saying that the delay will have huge implications. “The draft plan should be ready. It has been delayed considerably. The government has failed to come up with the 13th plan preparation,” he said.

“If 13th Plan is left to the next government, it is going to omit lots of spillover projects,” OL said.

The OL said that the local government planning officers are worried since they didn’t get definite directives and technical guidelines from the central government. However, some dzongkhags have initiated and prepared the concept plans.  

Meanwhile, the president of Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa, Kinga Tshering, said that plans should not only identify activities and look for sources of funding from grants but actually propose policies that would attract investments, generate wealth and empower the population through a vibrant economic cycle.  

The president said that major development activities like hydropower projects, road constructions and other infrastructure will need both short and long-term planning with specific budgeting and schedules.

“More important will be the fiscal and monetary policies that each party would pursue revving the post-pandemic economy.  But political parties should have their own version of the plan,” the party president said.

According to the 13th Plan draft concept note, the theme of the 13th Plan will be “a dynamic, prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economy in pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH).”

The lowest estimated investment requirement of the 13th Plan is more than double the 12th Plan budget, which is about Nu 310B.

The 13th Plan is expected to be ambitious in terms of investments given the focus on economic recovery and the aspiration to make Bhutan a high-income country within the next 10 years.

The government will have to mobilise between Nu 750B and Nu 1,250B in the 13th Plan, according to estimates by the erstwhile GNHC.