Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering

India-Bhutan relations strengthened: PM

India extended unconditional support to the development programmes of the 12th Plan, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said at the first press briefing after returning from his State visit to India last week.

“The top agenda of the state visit was the Indo-Bhutan relations. We’re losing the bigger picture while talking too much on smaller issues,” Lyonchhen said.

The hydropower tariff and other issues raised during the visit are nowhere compared to the relationship between the two countries.

That’s why lyonchhen’s focus was to boost the ties the two countries shared.

“If possible to find the device or any mechanism to take the relationship to a much greater height and I conveyed that to the Indian counterpart too,” Lyonchhen said.

Before leaving or India, while he looked forward to meet the Indian Prime Minister personally and strengthen the relationship, Lyonchhen said that he was equally anxious if he would be able to live up to the expectations.

But they have so much respect and goodwill for brand Bhutan that he hardly had to do anything, he said adding that the path he was treading has been set for centuries and the records set. “Brand Bhutan is very easy to sell because of our visionary leaders, as we mention His Majesty The King and brand Bhutan, it’s well received everywhere,” he said. “That was something unique and we only need to think how to value-add to it.”

On the budgetary assistance for the 12th Plan, he said that the message was simple – ‘lets know what we can do.’

Besides the Nu 45 billion assistance for the 12th Plan, the Indian government also agreed to a higher tariff rate than that its officials negotiated for Mangdechhu power.

Lyonchhen said that even at Nu 4.12 a unit from Mangdechhu hydroelectric plant, Bhutan still benefitted even though it may not have met the revenue estimated by the Bhutanese side.

“But since our expectation was Nu 4.27 per unit and since we were a new political power and that being our first visit, I thought that was an excellent gesture,” he said.

To match up with the Bhutanese delegation’s expectations, lyonchhen said the Indian side gave numerous concessions on the negotiations including giving Nu 1 billion to make up for the loss of projected revenue.

As a goodwill gesture, Bhutan also received another Nu 4 billion for trade facilitation and boosting economic linkages.

“The message from the other side was that there is a lot of room for negotiations and we will not send you back with anything less,” he said.

Lyonchhen attributed the successful negotiations and budget for the 12th Plan to his predecessors and the former government.

Foreign minister Dr Tandi Dorji said the delegation was given excellent hospitality and reception, a reflection of the strong bond of friendship between the two countries.

Tshering Palden

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