Jigmi Wangdi

The UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja, said that climate change is a major threat facing Bhutan as global warming increases the risk of glacial lake outburst floods.

At a press conference on September 18, Wignaraja shared her reflections and highlights of her mission. “All the climate-related events that Bhutan faces have very little to do with Bhutan.”

Wignaraja met with ministers, senior government officials and young entrepreneurs to discuss issues such as climate change, economic growth and employment.

She said that during her conversations with the government officials, she talked about how the UN and Bhutan can work together to create more opportunities for the youth of the country.

“There is a deep understanding that there has to be an ability for the country and the society to provide more opportunity and hope so that they do not feel compelled to leave the country,” she said.

She said that the technological changes have made life easier for many Bhutanese and highlighted the progress Bhutan has made in the health sector.

Wignaraja also visited various UNDP project sites in Thimphu, Punakha, and Wangdue.

Wignaraja last visited Bhutan 30 years ago.

He said that many contractors did not have working capital as they had incurred losses during the pandemic.

The CAB president said that the government needed to consider cost escalations to contractors as the economy improves. Contractors, he said, would incur further losses and that some of the contractors would be forced to surrender the project if the cost escalations are not considered.

Tashi Wangyel said that contractors are normally eligible for the adjustment of price escalations if the project period goes beyond a year. Such adjustments, he said, are made based on the consumer price index of the National Statistical Bureau of Bhutan (NSB), which comes to about 6 to 7 percent.

However, the CAB president claims that the cost of projects that are affected by the pandemic had increased by more than 50 percent due to the hike in the cost of labour and construction materials.

“With the price adjustments that are made based on the consumer price index, contractors are not able to cover the losses they have incurred during the pandemic,” he said.

Some contractors, the CAB president said, were already forced to surrender the project due to losses arising from cost escalations.

Procuring agencies, on the other hand, claim that contractors are surrendering works because the penalty is cheaper than completing the work.

The CAB had appraised the prime minister and the finance minister about the issue. He said that the association was grateful to the government for not imposing penalties on contractors so far.