US City takes cue from Bhutan

Seattle trying to achieve ‘Gross National Happiness’
Courtesy: King 5 News, Seattle, WA 

It’s one of the most isolated nations in the world, nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty and they’ve only had television for twelve years. So why are the people of Bhutan so happy, and why does the City of Seattle want us to be more like them? Continue reading US City takes cue from Bhutan

Decongesting Thimphu

Tunnel Proposal: Technical and possible financial help from Norway

Department of geology and mines (DGM) identified tunnel sites
Travel time within the country could be reduced from days to hours and even minutes if a government plan to build tunnels through mountains connecting major valleys is implemented.
The department of geology and mines (DGM) has already identified three potential sites for tunnels. The first and most probable is a tunnel from Thimphu to either Punakha or Wangduephodrang.
The second is a 12 km tunnel between Bumthang and Mongar bypassing the Thrimshingla pass, which is expected to cut 30 km of travelling distance on the East-West highway. The third is from Khasadrapchu in Thimphu to Shaba in Paro, with a tunnel length of nine kilometers, reducing travel time from 45 to 20 minutes.


Pre-feasibility studies have already been done by DGM, indicating that they can be done. “The Wangdue/Punakha tunnels can decongest Thimphu and allow people to settle in these two valleys and also reduce the travel distance and time by around 40 km,” said DGM chief geologist, Ugyen Wangda. Continue reading Decongesting Thimphu

Is Bhutan’s debt sustainable?

Though severely indebted, Bhutan is at a moderate risk of distress

13 December, 2009 – Bhutan is paying Nu 3.8 billion annually to service an outstanding debt of Nu 35b as of October this year, which is five billion less than the cost of the 1020 MW Tala project.

The debt, as a percentage of GDP, is 53 percent with hydropower debt at Nu 21.5b and non-hydropower debt at Nu 13.5b.

The debt figures do not take into account the Rs 5b borrowed this year from India to meet domestic rupee requirements, said Tshewang Norbu of the finance ministry. who made a presentation of the debt situation at a national workshop on strengthening responses to the global financial crisis. Continue reading Is Bhutan’s debt sustainable?

Performance Compact signing by Ministries

December 9, 2009

Today, the Royal Government of Bhutan makes a pledge – to significantly improve gross national happiness of its population by delivering to its citizens social and economic growth over the 10th plan period. This initiative is specifically aimed at generating respectful employment for 75,000 people, transforming delivery of public services like education and healthcare while institutionalizing a culture of good governance. Continue reading Performance Compact signing by Ministries

Bhutan’s 10th Five-Year-Plan

Centrepiece is poverty reduction. Attention to agriculture and allocation of resources are the unique features of this plan

The 10th Plan has generated unprecedented interest and debate in the history of development planning in Bhutan. Political exigencies have contributed to this debate in a newly established democratic setup. On many occasions, the political discussion loses out to academic merits and demerits of the issues involved. As a student of economics I have only academic interest in the nature of 10th FYP.

In my opinion, the 10th FYP is a major departure from earlier development plans in at least two perspectives: first, it is the first time the issue of poverty reduction finds a central place in the planning process; second, the allocation of resources across the dzongkhags is based on more objectively defined criteria. Continue reading Bhutan’s 10th Five-Year-Plan

Power to Tala

In April, Tala Hydroelectric Project Authority (THPA) will merge with Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) creating a mega-energy company.

THPA will continue to exist until all its activities were completed, according to a press release from the cabinet, which approved the amalgamation on February 24.

The DGPC made a detailed presentation to the cabinet on the amalgamation including manpower and organizational aspects of the DGPC management, the impact of the amalgamation on assets and liabilities, modification Courtesy Bank of Bhutanof articles of incorporation, and projected revenues of Tala, including revenues from Chhukha, Kurichhu and Basochhu plants. Continue reading Power to Tala

World Bank warns Bhutan of vulnerability

Countries unaffected by first round of global meltdown have to watch out for second wave.

Bhutan is vulnerable to the second round effects of the global economic slowdown, through export earnings, tourism receipts, remittances and external financing for infrastructure, warns the World Bank.

A report on Impact of Global Financial Crisis on South Asia released recently states that countries such as Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal were mostly insulated from the first round effects of the financial crisis, owing partly to their sound macroeconomic management and the underdeveloped nature of financial markets that are not exposed to international markets.

“Additionally, their reliance on foreign funding has been relatively large. The global financial crisis worsened their macroeconomic difficulties as sources of funding contracted,” stated the report. Continue reading World Bank warns Bhutan of vulnerability