Celebration: The nation came together to celebrate the 37th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King across the country yesterday.

Amidst wishes and prayers for His Majesty The King’s long life and good health, the government announced three major initiatives in education, agriculture, and local governance, dedicated to the occasion.

Members of the Local Government (LG) could expect a pay hike following the formation of the third Pay Commission to review salaries, allowances and benefits of the LG.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, while addressing the nation during His Majesty The King’s Birth Anniversary celebration in Thimphu yesterday said that His Majesty had graciously granted approval to form the third Pay Commission.  “The first meeting of the Commission is to be held today coinciding with the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King,” Lyonchoen said.

The government formed the Pay Commission in line with Article 30 of the Constitution and as approved by His Majesty The King on the recommendation of the Lhengye Zhungtshog.

Lyonchoen also reminded the nation of the high importance accorded by His Majesty The King in strengthening the LG stating that His Majesty benevolently awarded patang to all Dzongkhang Tshogdu chairpersons in addition to awarding of khadar to all the LG leaders.

Lyonchoen also pointed out that the for the first time Bhutanese students will be able to take part in the Programme for International Student Assessment Development  (PISA–D) this December. PISA-D is a triennial international survey, which aims to evaluate education systems.

Lyonchoen, therefore, urged students to do well in their exams and that the government will provide necessary support. “As 25 percent of the population constitutes students, it’s important for the government to provide good education,” Lyonchoen said.

Teacher development, establishment of Central Schools and revision and development of the school curriculum are some of the major reforms being taken by the government, according to Lyonchoen.

Soldiers rappel down a hill to collect trash. To mark the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King yesterday, employees of Bhutan Airlines and Drukair in collaboration with Royal Bhutan Army personnel based in Shaba conducted a cleaning campaign in Paro. Around 100 sacks of trash were collected. Two trash cans and a signboard to create awareness on cleanliness were also installed at the Bird’s Eye View site, an area frequented by tourists.

Emphasising the importance of the agricultural sector, Lyonchoen announced that the Rural Enterprise Development Corporation (REDCL) loan ceiling would be increased to Nu 500,000 from the existing Nu 100,000 coinciding with His Majesty’s Birth Anniversary.

So far, REDCL has approved 2,200 projects amounting to Nu 617 million.

Lyonchoen said that as 58 percent of the population was dependent on farming and livestock, it was important to promote and support this vital sector. The government, therefore, is constructing farm roads, distributing power tillers, providing electric fences and green houses, besides setting up farm shops in every gewog.

“To encourage farmers to invest in their farms, low interest loans without the requirement for mortgage are being made available to farmers through REDCL,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen also informed the nation that it is important for the government and people to work hand in hand in order for the country to attain self-sufficiency.

Kinga Dema and Tshering Palden 


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