Keeping with tradition, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will visit New Delhi, India on the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 27.

This is the first official visit by the newly elected Prime Minister.

Lyonchhen said Bhutan has strong bonds with India and the visit is a friendly visit.

“My intention is to start visiting our neighbours and we’ll start from the most important, that is India,” he said. “The Prime Minister of India called me the next day after the elections congratulating me and said he is looking forward to working together.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first and the only leader from the countries in the region to telephone Lyonchhen and congratulate him on his election, he said. “For many reasons, including the time-tested relation, helpful and most friendly neighbour,” he said. “The relation between the two countries is symbiotic.”

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale, who was in the country last month, on behalf of the Prime Minister of India, extended an invitation to Lyonchhen to visit India.

One of the programmes on the visit’s agenda is India’s support for the 12th Plan. The Plan has an outlay of Nu 310 billion.  

“We’re hopeful that the Government of India will respect our request,” he said.   

Kuensel learnt that a delegation is in New Delhi finalising talks on the Mangdechhu power tariff, which is expected to conclude before the visit of the Prime Minister.

There have been six rounds of talks on the Mangdechhu power project electricity export tariff and its finalisation would determine one of the revenue sources for the 12th Plan.

Lyonchhen said the tariff rate is very important for the 12th Plan as it would form a big share of the internal revenue.

The commissioning of Mangdechhu project would be one of the biggest earning hydropower projects for the country.

“The project started as a friendship flagship project, and I’m hopeful that (spirit) will be carried through and through,” he said.

The delegation would also hold discussions on Sunkosh hydropower project, which is also expected to be pursued as an inter-government project model.

The inauguration of the 720-megawatt Mangdechhu project, expected next month, is planned as one of the major events of the 50th-anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting all the relevant personalities, stakeholders and agencies that we have to work with and personally interested to know them and look forward to working together in the next five years,” he said.

Tshering Palden