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M. Fehr, member of the Swiss Parliament visited Bhutan July 2006
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Cooperation Bhutan - Switzerland
Swiss assistance will continue till the 10th Plan
October 2006
Swiss resident coordinator, Mr. E Werner K├╝lling

The Swiss Association for International Cooperation, Helvetas might withdraw bilateral assistance to Bhutan after the 10th Plan comes to an end (in June 2013) according to officials of Helvetas Bhutan.The resident coordinator of Helvetas in Bhutan, Mr. E Werner Kuelling, said that Switzerland had signed the Paris Declaration, which mandated that the cooperation between industrialised and developing countries should be more harmonised in future. "It says that the industrialised countries should give more budget financing to the developing countries and not bilateral project funding," he said.

"As per the Paris Declaration Switzerland committed to withdraw bilateral project funding and go more in multilateral funding and budget financing," Mr. E Werner Kuelling said.

"But it doesn't mean that we don't want to provide financial aid to Bhutan anymore," Mr. Kuelling added. "Helvetas would continue the bilateral projects and it is up to the government to tell us what they really want and need."

When Helvetas initially told the government that they would withdraw by 2008 or 2010, "there was a strong reaction from the Bhutanese government," said Mr. Kuelling. "The government wanted us to continue the partnership when the country was going through unprecedented transition and we agreed to stay till the end of the 10th plan."

"After the 10th plan we are open but nothing is certain, we will have to wait and see," said Mr. Kuelling. "The government might tell us that it will take over the projects or they might want us to stay. However, both the government and Helvetas have to be willing and happy if we are to stay after the 10th plan."

Mr. Kuelling said that an area of interest for Helvetas was 'good governance', which needed building up infrastructure at the gewog, district and national level and to train people at all levels.

"Just building up local infrastructure would not work," he said. "We have to implement things in a more practical way to ensure that it is successful."

As the former Secretary General of Helvetas, Switzerland for a long time Mr. Kuelling said Bhutan had achieved the best results compared with all the 22 countries that Helvetas was operating in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Bhutan's success, he said, could be attributed to its excellent leaders Bhutan has had.

Cooperation between Switzerland and Bhutan sprang up in 1950's through friendship between the third King and a rich Swiss businessman, Mr. Fritz Von Schulthess. Later, few rich Swiss members provided money for development activities in Bhutan and the "foundation pro Bhutan" was established. In 1975, Helvetas took over the activities of the foundation.

Initial areas of cooperation were in rural development, renewable natural resources (RNR) and education. Future projects were also with a focus on RNR in agriculture, forestry, livestock and environment.

In recent years, Helvetas has committed about USD 5.00 million to USD 6.00 million annually said Mr. Kuelling.

Author: Tashi Dorji, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006

Member of the Swiss Parliament visited Bhutan

July 2006

Swiss delegates
HM Queen Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck during a speech in Switzerland (2004)
left: the Bhutanese ambassador to the UN in Geneva (Switzerland),
right: Mr. Mario Fehr, member of the Swiss Parliament
On July 28, 2006, Mario Fehr, member of the Swiss National Council (first chamber of the Federal Assembly) and his wife visited the National Assembly of Bhutan.

After formal exchange of greetings, the Secretary General of National Assembly had given brief introduction about National Assembly and its Committees.

The Federal Assembly (The two chambers of the Swiss Parliament) in Switzerland consists of two chambers, the National Council and the Council of States. The two Councils are on the same level.

National Assembly of Bhutan
Swiss Parliament
Mr. Mario Fehr, in the midst of members of the Royal Family during a cultural event organized by HELVETAS and the "Society Switzerland-Bhutan" in Switzerland 2004.
Source: NAB, 2006


June 2006

Swiss resident coordinator, Mr. E Werner Kuelling

Switzerland is contributing Nu. 2.8 million to the labour ministry to consolidate and improve the relevance and quality of vocational education in the country.

The financial assistance will be used over a period of 18 months starting from this month. The ministry of labour and human resources will implement the project.

The ministry's director of occupational standards, Sangay Dorji, said the assistance will be used to strengthen the skill level of the training division, develop competency based curricula and instructional skills. The assistance, he said, will also be used to implement and manage the Bhutan Vocational Qualification framework.

Overall the assistance will consolidate and complement the contributions of the Bhutan-German project.

Resident Coordinator of Helvetas, Mr.Werner Kuelling, and Director General of Department of Aids & Debt Management, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, finalised the agreement.

Contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006
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