MB Subba

The Covid-19-induced economic disruptions will not affect Bhutan’s plans to graduate from the club of the United Nations’ Least Developed Countries (LDC) in 2023, the prime minister said in a recent interview with Kuensel.

This means that the 12th Plan is Bhutan’s last plan as a LDC. The graduation as per the plan entails addressing the last mile economic challenges in all the sectors during the remaining two and a half years of the government’s term.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said, “I don’t expect much changes in terms of our deadline to graduate from the LDC as we actually qualified for graduation a couple of years ago. It was in keeping with our request that the UN body kept 2023 as the graduation year for Bhutan so that we could time it with the 12th Plan.”

Bhutan had qualified to graduate from LDC in 2021. The country’s request for extension of the graduation timeline by two years was endorsed by the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly held in New York on December 13, 2018.

Graduation from LDC means that the country will not receive foreign aids as LDC thereafter. However, the country will continue to receive other foreign aids that are not tied to the LDC status.

The thresholds for the three criteria for graduation are a gross national income (GNI) per capita of USD 1,242 based on a three-year average, a human assent index (HAI) score of 66 or more and an economic vulnerability index (EVI) score of 32 or below.

However, the formulation of the 21st economic roadmap is expected to be affected due to Covid-19. The prime minister said that experts were working at various levels on the economic roadmap.

“No cabinet members, except me, are directly involved in drafting the roadmap and all other stakeholders including representatives of all political parties are there. Because we want it to be a national document,” he said.

The proposed goal of the economic roadmap is “High Income GNH Society by 2030”, the threshold of which is a GNI per capita of USD 12,375.

According to the earlier timeline, drafting of the roadmap should be completed by October this year and launched on February 21, 2021.