BTP for national unity

Dechen Dolkar

The live broadcast of the presidential debate for the general election, aired on BBS yesterday, exhibited a mature, measured, and focused exchange of ideas between the leaders of Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Having triumphed in the primary on November 30, BTP and PDP are now in contention to lead the government. The debate, addressing various crucial issues, maintained a calm atmosphere devoid of personal attacks.

Both political parties reiterated their commitments to the nation through this debate before commencing their campaigns across the country.

The presidents and vice presidents tackled topics such as economic development, climate diplomacy, youth and education, preservation of culture and environment, and primary healthcare.

BTP placed significant emphasis on its commitments, especially focusing on the five economic drivers: agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy, and mines and minerals. The party promises to double household incomes within five years.

The party assured that through these economic drivers, the country would revitalise the economy within five years, doubling the income of individual households. Specifically, the party envisioned generating Nu 7 billion from agriculture, Nu 120 billion from tourism.

BTP’s president, Pema Chewang, highlighted that regardless of which party assumes power, the primary focus will be on boosting the country’s economy, and that BTP would place greater emphasis on the prosperity of Bhutan.

He urged voters to carefully consider the impressive pledges made by parties, emphasising the importance of choosing wisely.

For the 13th Five-Year Plan, Nu 512 billion is allocated. BTP assured that these funds would be secured from the Government of India through a friendship built on good faith.

The party, Pema Chewang, said would invest Nu 50 billion in infrastructure development from the 13th Plan budget to double revenue in return.

The party’s vice president, Pema Tenzin, emphasised the party’s expertise in prioritising budget allocations for development activities.

Furthermore, BTP underscored health initiatives, pledging to station a male and female health worker each in Basic Health Units and to conduct screenings for non-communicable diseases.

Pema Tenzin emphasised the party’s commitment to retain employees through training programmes and improvements in the working environment, avoiding the need for staff replacements.

Pema Chewang said that PDP secure the highest number of votes in the primary elections, the dynamics change in the general round if the voters weigh the strengths of the parties carefully.

PDP for economic growth

KP Sharma

Banking on its experience in governance and as opposition in the past, and recognising the current priority, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emphasised the necessity of reviving the economy as the most urgent requirement during the presidential debate yesterday evening.

President of PDP, Tshering Tobgay hinged the debate on economic revival as the most urgent requirement, often arguing that the key to addressing existing issues lies in fostering a developed and advanced economy. The president tried to drive home the message that with the transition to a developed economy over the years, people currently residing abroad will have opportunities for investment and would choose to return to the country.

The vice-president of the party, Dorji Choden highlighted the importance of the agriculture sector in nurturing a self- sufficient economy. She committed to providing comprehensive support to rural farmers to strengthen their capabilities.

The president reiterated the party’s dedication to injecting a Nu 15-billion economic stimulus fund as part of this commitment, but clarified that the party did not have money saved in the bank.

On the debate topic of climate diplomacy, Tshering Tobgay who already made a name by appearing on TED, a platform to share ideas, promising Bhutan to remain carbon neutral took advantage of the edge. Despite the time limitation, the president managed to drive home his efforts in climate diplomacy by referring to the Bhutan For Life Initiative, his appearance on a global forum talking about Bhutan’s initiative during his time as the second democratically elected prime minister.

Tshering Tobgay, stated that if the PDP won the election, the government will actively champion environmental conservation and engage in carbon trading, leveraging the increased credentials in environmental protection.

In the field of preserving culture and tradition, the PDP considers its a current challenge committing itself to formulating effective strategies to not only promote culture, but also make it appealing for the youth.

Reflecting on past experiences, Tshering Tobgay stated that during the time of PDP in ruling, it dispatched teachers to various locations abroad as part of its initiatives to promote culture.

In the field of primary healthcare, PDP, the president said is committed to ongoing awareness and sensitisation on the health and hygiene of the people in addition to the increased deployment of health workers across the hospitals in the country.

In response to inquiries regarding the government’s approach to addressing the attrition rate and filling vacant positions in the public service, PDP expressed confidence in initially retaining existing civil servants. Should they choose to leave, the government would swiftly provide training and fill the vacant positions.