At the general debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said Bhutan has approached development from a holistic perspective based on the concept of Gross National Happiness.

“This is consistent with the 2030 Agenda,” Prime Minister said. “In the 2030 agenda and the SDGs, we’ve made a firm commitment to eradicate poverty and advance sustainable development.”

Prime Minister added that using the multidimensional poverty index to track progress on the SDGs is not just useful but has also been critical.

He said that Bhutan has been using the national multidimensional poverty index (MPI) for the past seven years as an official measure of poverty to assess the needs of people to formulate appropriate policies and effective interventions.

“Thirteen indicators of poverty were considered for MPI in three dimensions of health, education, and living standards,” Prime Minister said, adding if a person is deprived in a third or more of the (weighted) indicators, they are identified as poor, multidimensionally poor.

“Bhutan was able to bring down the poverty rate by 50 percent within a short span of time. We’re happy with this achievement and government’s call to reduce their MPIs in the next 15 years by 50 percent,” Prime Minister said.

Bhutan released its first global MPI in 2010, which found that about 25.8 percent of the population was multidimensionally poor while in 2012 the multidimensional poverty rate was estimated at 12.7 percent in the first national MPI report.  Prime minister said that the government has targeted to reduce the MPI rate to less than 10 percent by 2018 and has set the target of reducing MPI rate to below five percent in the 12th Plan.

“We’ve been able to achieve poverty reduction mainly because of our strong social development policies,” Prime Minister said. “Education and healthcare is free and we invest heavily on sustainable rural development, for which the local government has been strengthened.”

Prime Minister said the 2030 agenda and the SDGs provide a comprehensive framework and the MPI helps to measure and manage efforts to ensure that government is on the right path towards poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Staff reporter