Staff Reporter

Not long after the People’s Democratic Party criticised the government for implementing the new academic assessment criteria midway this year, the Opposition Party raised its concerns over the ruling party’s decision to ‘discontinue drafting the Five-Year Plan’.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) president and Opposition leader Dorji Wangdi, in a press release, stated that the ‘abrupt’ decision to discontinue the ‘time-tested’ development planning tradition of preparing a draft Five-Year Plan would have huge implications, seriously disrupting the socio-economic development and overall governance of the country.

The Opposition Leader said that the immediate impact of the absence of a draft Five-Year Plan would include — affecting equity in planning and resource allocation, regional balanced development, independence of local governments and professionalism of civil service, among others.

“Dangerously, it will lead to highly arbitrary and politicised planning and resource allocation, undermining the functions of different institutions of governance, local governments, for example,” he stated in the press release.

The Opposition Party further went on to say that a draft plan would be critical to both domestic and external resource planning and mobilisation. “Thus, it will be a big blunder on the part of the present government to do away with the practice of preparing a draft Five-Year Plan.”

The press release stated: “With just two years left to end the present plan and the tenure of the present government, it will be time to start the preparatory works. Further, new local governments will be in place by early 2022.”

Meanwhile, Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party’s (BKP) president in-charge, Sonam Tobgay supported the government’s decision. “I fully support the DNT government if what I am hearing is true about their plans to discontinue the Five-Year Plan process,” he wrote on BKP’s official Facebook page.

Sonam Tobgay said that the development model had served its purpose, and now needed a ‘paradigm shift’ to a more dynamic and versatile platform where long-awaited priority sectors of the economy are smartly harnessed for collective gains.

“In a world of scarcity, it serves a rare purpose to spread resources thinly for the sake of equitable regional distribution with no foreseeable returns. Centralised decision-making under the Five-Year Plans has not always been the most efficient way to run the economy leaving the dzongkhags and gewogs short of capacity in all facets,” he said.

He said that capacity outside the capital was infrequently built with the entire planning process templated from Thimphu. “That said, rural development and concerns for vulnerable groups must continue along with measured investments in health and education.”

He said: “Rather than focusing on what results will be achieved by the end of five years, it is time we deep dive on the five jewels identified since time immemorial and act on it now. Working backwards by setting targets (economic and social), and accordingly charting an implementation strategy might be worthy.”