MB Subba

The European Union (EU) on April 4 released Euro 8.5 million (M) to support Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) and local governance (LG) sectors in Bhutan.

The tranche release is a part of the larger budget support initiative for a total value of EUR €48.8M implemented by the government for the period from 2017 to 2022, according to a press release from the EU.

With the release of the 4th tranche, the EU has so far transferred EUR 29.6M to the government. Funds are implemented directly by the government through the national budget.

According to the press release, €4.5M will be utilised in the RNR sector to increase food self-sufficiency and sustainable management of natural resources.

The rest,  €4M will be used in the local governance sector to improve local governance and fiscal decentralisation, equitable socio-economic development and sustainable management of environment.

The EU’s ambassador to India and Bhutan, Ugo Astuto, said, “Under the government of Bhutan’s leadership, the country has made good progress in supporting the renewable natural resources sector and in fostering local governance, in line with the Five-Year Plan.”

“We are happy to contribute to Bhutan’s efforts in accelerating sustainable economic growth, improving service delivery and enhancing the livelihoods of all citizens. Strengthened financial and control capacities of the government will allow even further progress in implementing Public Finance Management reform measures,” he said.

The ambassador added, “The EU will continue to work together with the government also in the framework of the current global Covid-19 crisis, assessing the medium and long-term impact of the pandemic in the country. The funds made available will offer the government more fiscal space to address Covid- 19 needs.”

According to the press release, both the projects, supported by the EU, have achieved key milestones in 2018-19.

Under the RNR sector, self-sufficiency with respect to egg and milk production was achieved and   2,765 hectares were afforested and reforested in 2018.

About 262,949 hectares of forest area was brought under sustainable management and 9,858 km of farm roads have been built.

The EU also stated that 2,996.5 km of irrigation channels were constructed or renovated and 99 farmers groups and cooperatives were registered, creating 584 employment opportunities.

In the local governance sector, 31 business initiatives commenced through green economic development. The EU also supported 50 local governments through the performance-based grants.

Over 1,000 LG functionaries trained and women representation in LG have increased.