Tshering Palden

The one gewog one product programme is identified as one of the two flagship programmes to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality in the 12th Plan.

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s Narrowing the Gap pledge or eradicating poverty and reducing inequality is one of the 17 national key result areas in the 12th Plan endorsed by the GNHC last month.

OGOP implemented by the Queen’s Project Office is to provide income-generating opportunities to enhance the livelihood of rural communities across the dzongkhags. The programme will build capacity of communities to produce and undertake preliminary post-harvest pro- cessing and packaging.

The flagship pro- grammes, a new feature in the 12th Plan, are interventions to address high-priority national issues in a concerted and holistic approach by providing a formal mechanism for multi-sectoral collaboration and coordination.

The other flagship programme to reduce poverty is the national highland development flagship programme to improve the standard of living of highland communities through the provision of facilities and amenities and by enhancing and diversifying sources of livelihood.

The third programme to achieve this national key result area, implemented by local governments, is aimed at developing highland enterprises, supply of yaks and sheep and improving health, education and other facilities for highlanders.

National Key Result Area is a national-level development outcome designed to contribute towards achieving the plan objective.

The objective of the 12th Plan is ‘Just, Harmonious and Sustainable Society through enhanced Decentralisation’ and underpinned by principles of leaving no one behind, narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, and ensuring equity and justice.

The Plan defines a Just Society as a society where every citizen has equitable access to resources and opportunities to pursue and realise individual and national aspirations. Reducing poverty and inequality is one of the priorities to create a Just Society.

To meet this target, the government will target the poor, continue with broad-based social investments, and implement specific policy measures.

The commission will identify the most vulnerable groups and target need-based interventions to increase their ability to earn income and improve their overall standard of living.

The focus will be on creating income-generating opportunities through skills enhancement and capacity development, ensuring food security and initiatives to improve health and overall well-being of these groups.

The government will continue broad-based social sector programmes in areas of health, education and agriculture by both central agencies and local governments. The focus shall

be on enhancing equitable access to social services as well as pursuing improvements in the overall quality of services pro- vided.

To ensure that Dzongkhags, Gewogs and Thromdes with high incidences of poverty receive adequate resources, poverty shall be used as a criterion to determine resource allocation among local governments.

The National Minimum Wage Rate for the National Workforce shall be reviewed.

Allowances for women in rural areas during the initial months of childbirth shall also be explored. Initiatives like the provision of free nutritious lunches for needy children in identified schools and institutes shall also be considered.

The government will institute well-equipped permanent mobile medical teams to offer specialist services to unreached pockets and populations. Efforts to protect and support the informal sector will also be undertaken.

The target is to improve the living conditions of the general population and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor by eradicating poverty in all its forms through improvements in health, education and living standard.

“It also aims to create an inclusive society by reducing various forms of inequality such as gaps in income and consumption and access to critical services such as health and education,” the plan document states.

The country has managed to reduce the incidence of both income and multidimensional poverty over successive plans. The national poverty rate has been reduced from 23.2 percent in 2007 to 8.2 percent in 2017. In the same period, rural poverty dropped from 30.9 percent to 11.9 percent and proportion of urban poor reduced from two percent to 0.7 percent.

The incidence of subsistence poverty or extreme poverty stood at 1.5 percent in 2017.

Multidimensional poverty was more than halved to 5.8 percent in 2017 from 12.7 in 2012.

Bhutan’s Gini score, which measures the level of income inequality within the country increased to 0.38 in 2017 as compared to 0.36 in 2012. While Bhutan’s Gini score is not alarming, the deterioration of the score calls for assessment of existing policies and programmes to ensure that benefits of development are equitably shared and that inequality stemming from differential access to opportunities and wealth is minimised.

The government’s spokesperson foreign minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that, unlike past plan periods, the 12th plan period commences from November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2023 mainly to align with the term of the incoming government. “Similarly, the future Plans will follow the incoming government’s tenure to ensure that governments are able to oversee the implementation of a Plan completely.”

The Plan largest to date is worth Nu 310 billion and would be presented at the Parliament session that begins today.