Bhutan’s private sector has come of age. At a time when the country is increasingly facing unemployment problem, youth unemployment in particular, the news that our private companies are now poised to taken on bigger projects like hydropower, is highly encouraging.

This is a sign of economic growth that we have been able to achieve since we launched our first planned development programmes some 50 years ago. Economic growth is necessary in that our very sovereignty rests on it. But our economy should grow in a manner that it helps create ample employment opportunities.

Our GDP numbers could be high, but if a significant number of our people are jobless, there is a problem. This is why private sector growth should be the priority.

It has been quite sometime Bhutanese business leaders have been asking the government to give them space in construction and development of hydropower projects in the country. We have big private companies that can take up major projects. But are we really sincere? Prime Minister said that it would be stupid on the government’s part to give the job based on trust unless private companies are really ready for the task. Indeed.

One of the challenges facing the country today is boosting the private sector growth. Self-reliance has been our dream since the first day of our planned development initiative. Our economy is still weak. This dream will remain a dream if private sector growth is slow or deficient.

What is important today is that private sector should create more jobs and lead the economic growth of the country. It important, therefore, that government comes up with stringent rules and regulation and allow private sector to participate in major projects that will employ thousands of young people seeking jobs.

Punatsangchhu I and II and Mangdechhu projects are progressing. Dagachhu is nearing commission. Kholongchhu and Nikachhu are about to kick-start. Bunakha, Wangchhu and Chamkharchhu are next. These are the projects where private sector can participate. Many more will come.

This is the time when private sector should bolster their capacity both in terms of human resource and productivity. All these happening, there is a real opportunity for both economy and its beneficiaries. Unemployment problem will be greatly reduced and economic growth can pick up.

These are exciting times of hope. We have made a start and hope that private sector growth really begins with this.