Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra and Foreign Secretary Pema Choden jointly inaugurated the two Government of India (GoI)-assisted projects: Digital Drukyul; and Upgraded Central Schools, in Thimphu yesterday.
Indian Foreign Secretary is on an official visit to Bhutan from January 18 to 20 at the invitation of Bhutan’s foreign secretary. It is his first visit to Bhutan.
The foreign ministry officials, during the inaugural ceremony, said that Digital Drukyul is the project initiated aimed at harnessing the power of ICT to transform Bhutan into an innovative and inclusive society. GoI made assistance of Nu 1066 Million (M).
There are four critical projects under the initiative – Government-Initiated Network; Integrated Citizen Services; Digital School, and Enhancement of ICT Sector’s Capacity and Competency.
GoI has also granted fund support of Nu 1920M for a project of Upgraded Central Schools.
Officials said the project includes the construction of classrooms, hostels, multipurpose halls, staff quarters, toilets, water supply, renovation, and procurement of furniture, vehicles, and ICT equipment in 58 central schools in the country.
A short video clip was also screened during the inaugural ceremony showing the projects carried out in the central schools.
During the last National Assembly session in November last year, the then information and Communication minister, Karma Donnen Wangdi submitted that 72 percent of the Digital Drukyul project has been completed.
The Foreign Secretary called on the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister yesterday. He also discussed various issues of mutual interests with his counterpart foreign secretary.
Meeting with the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering in the afternoon have discussed exploring newer areas of partnership in line with the evolving scenario in energy sector. They have also touched upon the modalities of the 13th Plan, moving away from conventional planning system, and integrating the essential element of long-term perspective planning according to the post on Prime Minister’s Office’s Facebook page.
“I shared my thoughts on how ongoing national transformation will significantly impact the 13th Plan priorities and drive them by addressing deficiencies observed in the previous plans,” the post stated.
The post also stated that the agreed to enhance collaboration in sectors such as energy, education, and digital through increasing investment prospects in specific projects that will generate lasting positive impacts. “We also discussed strengthening trade-related infrastructure and exploring e-commerce platforms to expand our reach in India’s market.”
Lyonchhen also expressed his appreciation for India’s generous support to Bhutan’s digital flagship program and central schools.
12th Plan Talks
Secretary Kwatra also co-chaired the Fourth Bhutan-India Development Cooperation Talks of the 12th Plan along with Foreign Secretary Pema Choden. The GOI expressed satisfaction with the post-Covid-19 progress of projects and assured the Bhutan government of smooth releases of funds in a time-bound manner.
The press release from the foreign ministry stated, during the talks, the two sides noted with satisfaction the progress of the implementation of Gol’s assistance to Bhutan in the current Plan. The Bhutanese side expressed appreciation of the Royal government and the people of Bhutan to the GoI for its unwavering and generous support of Bhutan’s development, including the current Plan.
“The two sides exchanged initial views on the 13th Plan, and the GoI assured its support to Bhutan’s initiatives for developing Bhutan into a high-income country,” the press release stated.
According to the press release, the Talks were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere in keeping with the excellent ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.