In response to a graduate’s query on whether the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) had a say in the political parties’ plans on August 18 during the graduates’ orientation, GNHC’s secretary Thinley Namgyel said the commission would be working on it as there was a danger that the development focus would be short-term with political parties coming into power every five years. 

Thinley Namgyel said that if there was no long-term perspective plan, there was a risk of disregarding the aims and vision of the country. “Broadly, GNHC is the central coordination, monitoring, evaluation body of all socio-economic developmental plans.” 

On the time extension for graduating from the Least Developed Country status, Thinley Namgyel said the request was made to ensure that the country could graduate in a sustainable manner. “As we have not met the economic vulnerability indicator even once, the focus of our 12th Plan is to strengthen the economy. We should also use this opportunity to ensure that the last mile challenges are addressed.” 

He said Bhutan met the threshold for the first time in 2015. “Only two indicators – Human Asset Index and Gross National Index per capita were met.”  

The last review was carried out in March this year, Thinley Namgyel said. 

As the current long-term plan comes to an end by 2020, he said that the commission would soon be working towards the next long-term plan.

On whose responsibility it was to create jobs, Thinley Namgyel said the concerned agencies have been facilitating the growth of the economy for employment creation. “In the 12th Plan, there are initiatives in creating enabling environment for businesses.”

He said there were industrial parks under construction and schemes like Priority Sector Lending (PSL), which made access to finance easier. 

A senior planning officer with GNHC, Chencho, in his presentation on GNH said that in 2015, the GNH index of Bhutan was 0.756. “It does not mean that 75.6 percent of people are happy. It also includes the happiness component of people who are not happy. At an individual level, there were nuances related to the status of happiness.”

A graduate asked if there were ways to retain professionals such as teachers and doctors as many sought jobs that paid them well. Thinley Namgyel said that both professions were important and that there is a lot of focus in motivating these professionals. “In terms of budget, health and education get the highest. However in the past, the focus was on the infrastructure.”

In the 12th Plan, the emphasis is on improving what is already present, he said. “We can now focus more on other areas such as human resource development.”

However, when it comes to financial allowances, it is the pay commission who has the authority, he said. 

The National Graduates Orientation Programme ended on August 18. 

Rinchen Zangmo