The Prime Minister’s State of the Nation Report, many expected would talk about what the government did in the past one year or the state of the nation as it stands today. To the surprise of many, it was a break away from the past tradition. There was not much on government’s successes or failures. It was more about opportunities that can be seized in the future.
The Prime Minister took a different approach – not reporting what has already been reported, but what has failed and what needs to be done. It was about facts and telling the truth. More than what we could achieve, there is a lot more to look forward to.
In reporting the state of the nation, the Prime Minister pointed out what ought to have been done or what we have not. It was, in short, what we should do going ahead. The status of the economy, education, governance, public service, Lyonchhen said is not what it should have been.
The gapping trade deficit, unemployment or underemployment, irrelevant curriculum, poor public service where people still have to rely on networks to avails basic public services are signs of systems or people behind systems not working.
However, there were some initiatives taken. Nine flagship programmes were launched (worth Nu. 15 billion). We should see the results in the near future.
Health and education received special priority. Prime Minister said that the government established 10 cluster hospitals and offered four specialised services in medical, gynaecology, paediatric and general surgery, alongside GI endoscopy and ultrasound services, with mother and child and mental health receiving renewed focus. In education, he said, schools across the country were digitalised, students’ nutrition improved through day feeding programs and the curriculum and assessment system reformed.
This is a picture of Bhutan looking ahead. We should see improved services, better educated Bhutanese or job-ready or graduates relevant to the demands of the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed the government’s plans. But we must also remember that we could have failed miserably had we not blessings, the guidance and wisdom from outside the government. This was a picture of a nation coming together to fight one common enemy, and successfully at that.
Looking ahead, we see a clear direction with the guidance from the golden throne. We have already given shape to the 13th Plan. Good governance, accountability, and transparency will be at the centre of our policy initiatives.
Many Bills and Laws have been passed, some unfortunately controversial. But it is about Bhutan that the sitting government has to work on. We know what we must get.
The State of the Nation Report this time gives us a clear picture of the nation.