YK Poudel 

The eight National Council (NC) candidates of Samtse dzongkhag pledge to enact and review the policies and existing plans for the economic growth of the country through vibrant tourism policies.

During the 4-hour debate on national television from Samtse HSS on March 18, candidates shared their pledges and vision for the dzongkhag and the country.

Candidates said that they would work towards framing evidence-based policies ensuring the involvement of all citizens through local government meetings.

Tashi Dendup of Dophoogchen gewog, Samtse said that he would emphasise enacting laws that are research-based and contribute to framing policies that help in economic growth.

“Considering the problem of every individual citizen is important for framing better laws. I would work closely with the public and frame policies that are feasible and as per the Constitution,” he said.

Tashi Dendup said that mandating the work experience for candidates of parliamentary elections is a way of ensuring they are well-experienced in framing policy.

Chungdu Tshering, 41, from Samtse gewog said, “I would study the existing policies that require changes and make plans for the country that are beneficial to the citizens.”

Working as a reporter and TV producer, he said, he was aware of the needs of the public and he would support the existing policies that are good.

Chungdu Tshering said that for social and economic development, transformation over time is a must. “The transformation is a way to look forward and frame policies that help socio-economic growth and ensure an efficient public service delivery.”

Pol Prasad Chapagai from Duenchhukha gewog said he knew the problems of those who depend on agriculture. “We must fulfill the needs of the farmers and youth, and frame policies that are pro-agriculture and help in the economic growth.”

“Samtse, with a large population and arable land, has not benefitted from a few existing policies to go commercial. With changes in some policies, farmers should be able to produce surplus and sell it,” he said.

Pol Prasad Chapagai said that businesses that started the business with loans defaulted because of the pandemic. “Now, with the situation getting better, the businesses can improve over time and perform better.”

Kumar Ghalley, 37, from Pemaling gewog said that he would work towards framing policies that will ensure better payment for every employee, especially the youth. “The land policy has to be made easier for every people to invest in arable land and generate employment.”

Kumar Ghalley said that the amendment of the Tobacco Control Act was a good measure to ensure public safety during the pandemic. “The risk at the border was high due to illegal tobacco business as well as the price hike.”

“Every citizen and agency should take the responsibility of minimising tobacco consumption knowing the fact that it is harmful,” he said.

Samir Giri from Tashichhoeling gewog pledged to improve tourism policies. “Samtse has potential for local, regional, and international tourism. The incentives will ensure better tourism in the dzongkhag.”

Samir Giri said that the sustainable development fund (SDF) is a better move to ensure better services for tourists. “This will help the country in promoting quality tourism and improve the hard-hit economy due to the pandemic,” he said.

Ngawang Tshering, a former Culture Officer, said that the transformation exercise has brought changes in every sector and a need for a better policy is a must. “I as an NC candidate aim to enact laws and policies that help the common people’s needs be heard and work closely with ministries and departments.”

Rural-urban migration, he said, is a prominent problem. “The regional equity projects such as the construction of training centers will help in retaining the people in the dzongkhags,” he said.

“Migration issue requires immediate attention, and as policymakers, NC candidates should research on reasons why people are migrating and improve equal facilities all over the country,” he said.

Til Chand Sharma from Samtse throm pledged to frame policies in consultation with the local communities for the country’s economic growth. “The tourism sector has a capacity of involving people of the local community in ensuring economic growth.”

According to him, Bhutan is graduating from the LDCs group and needs more export than imports. “The industrial development in the country is one of the means to enhance self-sufficiency and export-driven economy,” he said.

“Industrial estates in the country that have remained under-utilised require immediate attention,” he said.

Subash Sharma from Norboogang gewog pledged to contribute towards progress in the IT sector. “For a better economy, policies in the IT sector, agriculture, and youth engagement is a must.”

“Based on the reports, the unemployment rate is increasing. Samtse being at the southern border has the benefit of raw materials, market advantage, and cheap labour. The policies that support the entrepreneurs, with a better IT sector and plans that are convenient for farmers would help in improving the economic growth of Samtse,” he said.

According to Subash Sharma, unemployment is a growing concern that requires foremost attention. “Bhutan requires youth with technical skills. The changes in making education curriculum technical-based are one of the means to enhancing skilled youth.”