Assembly: His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo graced the closing ceremony of the winter session of Parliament yesterday.

This winter session was the eighth session of the National Assembly while it was the National Council’s (NC) 18th.

His Majesty The King was received at the Assembly hall by Speaker Jigme Zangpo and NC Chairperson Dasho Sonam Kinga.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and Members of The Royal Family were also present.

Representatives of the international community, senior government officials and students, among others, also witnessed the occasion.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, the Thrizin and Lamgong-Wangchang MP Khandu Wangchuk moved the motion to His Majesty The King on behalf of the government, the NC and the opposition party. Expressing their gratitude, the speakers highlighted and hailed the noble initiatives of His Majesty The King.

Lyonchoen highlighted the 10 important achievements under the leadership of His Majesty The King since He ascended the Golden Throne on December 9, 2006. Yesterday marked the 10th year of His Majesty The King’s accession to the Golden Throne.

Lyonchoen said that the decade seemed more like 10 months for the people of Bhutan as the people experienced peace and prosperity. Lyonchoen said His Majesty The King during the ten years of His reign, worked tirelessly for the people and strengthened the country’s security and sovereignty.

Highlighting the importance of security and sovereignty of the country, Lyonchoen said relations with countries have been further strengthened by His Majesty The King. Under the guidance of His Majesty The King, Lyonchoen said security and sovereignty have been strengthened.

“Recognising the important roles of the armed forces, His Majesty The King raised the salaries of armed forces personnel thrice,” Lyonchoen said. He added that people in the border dzongkhags have been living in peace without security fears.

Lyonchoen also highlighted His Majesty The King’s role in disaster management. He said although Bhutan experienced some disasters, His Majesty The King has provided relief materials to the affected people.

During His reign, His Majesty The King also granted various kinds of kidu. His Majesty The King granted a total of 134,897 acres of land as kidu to 111,899 people across the country, he informed.

“His Majesty The King’s generous grants have resulted in better livelihood of the people,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen informed that a total of 8,993 stateless people and another 6,087 people affected by census drop outs were granted citizenship kidu by His Majesty The King. A total of 2,660 youths from poor family backgrounds were grated Gyalpoi Tozen, out of which 151 are studying in colleges.

A project for the elderly at Wangsisina in Thimphu has been initiated, he said. The project is part of His Majesty The King’s People’s Project.

Heart and cancer patients have been referred for treatment abroad on His Majesty The King’s kidu. A separate house in Thimphu is also being constructed for kidney patients.

Successful introduction of democracy, Lyonchoen said was one of His Majesty The King’s biggest achievements. When democracy was first introduced in the country, he said the people were not ready to support it. “But we are an example in the world today,” he said.

The Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGS) was also the initiative of His Majesty The King.

Because of the importance accorded to religion by His Majesty The King, the number of registered monks has increased from 5,000 in 2006 to 7,027 today. Stipends for monks have also been increased three-folds to improve the living standards of monks.

On the Command of His Majesty The King, 546 lhakhangs were renovated, 104 rebuilt and 107 new ones were built. A total of 1,950 choetens were renovated.

Five dzongs were also renovated while new dzongs are being constructed in Sarpang and Pemagatshel. “Wangduphodrang and Drukgyal dzongs are also being rebuilt to bring them back to their former glory,” he said.

Further, Lyonchoen said that while a Hindu mandir or temple has been constructed in Samtse, another is being built in Thimphu. One more will soon be built in Gelephu and another in Jomotsangkha, Samdrupjongkhar will be renovated under the Command of His Majesty The King.

Lyonchoen said Bhutan has been able to preserve its culture and environment under the leadership of His Majesty The King. Despite the economic development, Bhutan has preserved its environment.

“About 72 percent of the country is covered with forests,” he said. His Majesty The King started the “Bhutan for Life” fund, an initiative that aims to provide a sustained flow of finance to maintain the country’s protected areas and biological corridors for perpetuity.

Over the last 10 years, Lyonchoen said Bhutan’s GDP increased from Nu 40 billion (B) to Nu 154B. “We are soon expected to graduate to the group of middle income countries,” he said.

He added that Bhutan ranked 27th among 158 countries in 2015 in the corruption perception index.

Lyonchoen said the Wangchuck Dynasty is the symbol of unity for the nation.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo expressed his gratitude to His Majesty The King for gracing the closing ceremony. The winter session of Parliament, he said, was successfully concluded under the noble guidance of His Majesty The King.

MB Subba