Austria has committed 8.3 million euros to help Bhutan graduate the least developed countries group by the end of the 12th Plan.

Gross National Happiness Commission secretary Thinley Namgyel and Ambassador of Austria to Bhutan based in New Delhi, Brigitte Oeppinger-Walchshofer signed the letter of exchange for the Bhutan Country Strategy 2019-2023 on February 23.

The signing took place in the presence of two foreign ministers, Dr Tandin Dorji and Karin Kneissl (PhD).

Austrian minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneissl is on a two-day visit to Bhutan, accompanied by senior officials from the Austrian government.

The Bhutan Country Strategy 2019-2023 is the result of a consultative and participative process passed on Bhutan’s development policies, taking into consideration the achievements of Bhutan on its way to development.

The Strategy supports Bhutan in the transition period until its graduation from the Least Developed Country by the end of 2023 and stipulates the phasing out of Austrian Development Cooperation from Bhutan by 2023, a foreign ministry press release states.

Austrian development assistance to Bhutan started with training for the tourism sector in the late 1970s.

An agreement on technical cooperation was formally signed on May 10, 1989 to strengthen technical cooperation between Austria and Bhutan.

Austria has been a development partner to Bhutan over the past three decades in the priority areas of energy, culture, tourism, RNR and in recent years also governance.

The foreign minister also called on Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering.

Staff reporter