11-hour session between ministries and dzongkhags on annual performace agreements

Governance: For the economy to thrive, every dzongkhag must ensure its own economic growth and the National Statistical Bureau (NSB) would be assessing the economy of each dzongkhag soon.

In an 11-hour marathon coordination meeting between the ministries and dzongkhags to discuss the Annual Performance Agreements (APA) for the fiscal year 2015-16 yesterday, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay asked the dzongdas and planning officers to identify, study and facilitate cottage and small industries in the locality.

The economic prospect of the country however looks good, if all the ministries meet its targets in the performance agreement for the next fiscal year.

In its draft agreement, the ministry aims to develop and have running 16,708 cottage and small industries.  As of December, there are already 12,548 CSIs in the country.

The ministry’s officiating secretary, Sonam P Wangdi, said about 660 rural households would be engaged in indigenous crafts to promote more CSIs.

To increase the investment, the target is to approve about 20 large and medium industries, besides five new FDI companies in the next fiscal year.

Besides the hydropower export accounting for about Nu 11B (billion), the ministry has increased the target of non-electricity export to Nu 27B in next fiscal year from the current target of Nu 24.9B.

Lyonchoen also suggested that a target need to be set as to how much the country can cut down on its imports, and to achieve this, all government agencies must collaborate.

The development of mini dry port, industrial estates are also included in the draft agreement, which would bring about economic benefits to the country.

The government’s investment is also expected to increase in capital expenses, building roads and bridges, for instance.

In the draft agreement, works and human settlement ministry intends to complete five bridges and initiate construction of four others.

The ministry would also develop national road network; primary and secondary national highways. Double lane of north East-West highway, and black topping of gewog centre roads are also on the priority list of the ministry.

However, the MoWHS secretary, Dasho (Dr) Sonam Tenzin, said environmental clearance took much longer time, and that a certain degree of flexibility to appropriate the budget should be given to chief engineers to speed up road construction.

He also informed the dzongdas that use of any new technology and construction of landmark infrastructuresmust be approved by the ministry. “All experts must be put together to see the viability,” he said.

While many other ministries were pushing the finance ministry for more fund, finance secretary Lam Dorji said there was a budget ceiling fixed by the finance ministry.  This was because, he said, the ultimate target of the ministry was to contain the fiscal deficit at three percent of GDP.

He also reminded the dzongkhag administrations to not pre-finance projects that require big financing.

Meanwhile, lyonchoen said that such coordination meetings would help different government agencies understand each other.

For instance, he said, instead of proposing a bridge over Maokhola in Sarpang, which is financially not viable, the dzongkhag can consider other modes of transportation, like rope way and river ways, which the information and communication highlighted in its performance agreement.

“The idea is not to penalise the signatories of the agreement, the idea is to help each other,” lyonchhen said.

By Tshering Dorji, Paro