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The King addressing the nation
His Majesty the King's National Day Speech in Samtse 2002
As our people are aware, the Ninth Five Year Plan begins from this year. Not including the expenditure for power projects and establishment of industries, the development budget outlay for the Ninth Plan is Nu. 70 billion. On behalf of the government and people of Bhutan, I would like to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to our close friend and development partner India, to other friendly donor countries, and to the international organisations who are extending their generous assistance for the socio-economic development of our country.

We have many important objectives to achieve during the Ninth Plan. Among them the most important is the devolution of power to the dzongkhag and geog development committees. The financial outlay for development activities in the dzongkhags and geogs, not including the central programmes and projects, is Nu. 17 billion.

There are 2,914 elected representatives of the people in the 20 dzongkhag yargye tshogdus and 201 geog yargye tshogchungs in the country.

With the devolution of administrative and financial powers to the development committees, it is of utmost importance that our people elect the best and most capable representatives as members of the dzongkhag yargye tshogdus and the geog yargye tshogchungs.

We must keep in mind that the extent of progress and development achieved in the villages, geogs and dzongkhags of Bhutan will depend upon the role and participation of the people in implementing the programmes and objectives of the Ninth Plan.

In the world today, we see many countries facing political, social, and economic problems. In Bhutan since the devolution of executive powers to the prime minister and council of ministers of the lhengye zhungtsho in 1998, the elected Cabinet has provided good governance for the country. I would like to express our appreciation to the council of ministers for discharging their responsibilities well over the last four and a half years.

By June next year, it will be time for registering a vote of confidence in the elected ministers of the lhengye zhungtsho. I would like to mention that, as our country is developing rapidly, and the work load of the government is increasing to fulfill the aspirations of the people and meet the emerging challenges, new ministries will have to be established and the council of ministers would likewise have to be expanded.

Once the lhengye zhungtshog is expanded and strengthened with a new mandate to govern, thereafter, in keeping with the decision of the 80th session of the National Assembly, we will hold talks with the militants who have established camps inside Bhutan. During the talks, it will be our objective to ensure that the militants remove their main camp, which serves as their headquarter, from Bhutanese territory. If our efforts to resolve this problem peacefully do not yield results, and the militants from Assam and North Bengal refuse to leave our country through the process of peaceful dialogue, we will be left with no option but to use our military forces to remove them from Bhutan. This will result in war and it is very important for all of us to be fully aware that in such a situation the security of the country will be threatened. We will have to face loss of lives and economic hardship and all sections of Bhutanese people will be seriously affected.

In November this year, the first draft of our Constitution was completed by the constitution drafting committee. I would like all of you to know that the Constitution is not a gift from the King to the people. It is, however, the sacred responsibility of the King, the government and the people of our 20 dzongkhags to bring forth a Constitution that will serve the best interests of our country. I would like to inform you that the drafting committee presented the first draft of the constitution to me about a week back.

The Constitution will be finalized in close consultation with our people. I will be studying the draft carefully and we will do our best to ensure that a very good draft constitution is then distributed to the 20 dzongkhags. I will be personally visiting the dzongkhags with the members of the drafting committee to discuss with our people and ensure that your views are incorporated in the draft before it is forwarded to the National Assembly.

It is important for the government and the people to work closely together in bringing forth a constitution that will fulfill the aspirations of the Bhutanese people, promote our national interest, safeguard Bhutan's security and sovereignty, and provide a strong foundation for a political system that is most suitable and beneficial for both the present and future well being of our people and country.

With the success achieved in our education sector, a large number of our children are studying in schools established all over the country. It is estimated that in the next five years about 50,000 of our youth will have to be provided with employment. Therefore, the government has attached high priority to human resource development in the Ninth Plan.

A budget of Nu. 3 billion has been allotted to provide job related training in the government and the private sector.

As our country progresses on the path of socio-economic development, it is important to provide gainful employment to our people.

The objective of providing full and useful employment can only be achieved through the establishment of industries and the development of the private sector. In this regard, it is necessary to make greater efforts in strengthening and developing the private sector, and for the government and the private sector to work together, hand in hand, to provide good employment opportunities to the youth of Bhutan. After exhorting our youth in the schools to study hard and serve the country well when they grow up, it would all be pointless if we cannot provide them with good jobs. One of the important responsibilities of the government is to ensure that a small country like Bhutan will never have to face unemployment problems. Every effort must be made to ensure that the Bhutanese people will always be able to find gainful employment.

At present Bhutan has only one airfield, in Paro. Even though it cannot be used by big planes, the Paro airport has greatly benefited our people and country. However, as our country progresses it is necessary to have a bigger airport to facilitate the growth in trade and export of our commodities. While feasibility studies had been carried out, it was not possible to build an international airport on sites identified earlier as they were located in areas in the south which are facing security problems from the ngolops and the militants. The government has, therefore, decided to establish an international airport at Sha Khotokha during the 9th plan.

It is very important for Bhutan to overcome the transportation problems of a small, landlocked country. The construction of an international airport at Khotokha is necessary to meet the future requirements of our people and country and we will have to look for external assistance to establish this airport. As in the past, when the Paro airport was constructed, we are confident that our close friend India will provide full assistance in the establishment of the Khotokha airport.

In our country, about 80 percent of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Therefore, in order to increase the income of our farmers, it is important for the government to provide land kidu to people who do not have adequate agricultural land. Since 1974, the government had implemented 102 resettlement schemes for landless people and those who were dependent on tseri cultivation. As our people are aware, most of the resettlement schemes were implemented for the kidu of the southern Bhutanese people.

On the auspicious occasion of our National Day, I am happy to announce that the government will be allotting land to 600 families with inadequate agricultural landholdings. In order to ensure the success of development activities in the rural areas, it is necessary for the government to ensure that kidu land is allotted to people who have insufficient land and to those who are dependent on shifting cultivation.

As you know, some of our landless people in the north have been resettled on land available in the south. Today, when our country is going through a difficult and challenging period, this should not be a cause for doubts or alarm for anyone so long as the people resettled are genuine citizens of our country. If the land that is available in the south is left fallow and unoccupied, there is a serious danger of them being taken over by the ngolops and the militants from across the border.

Looking after and retaining possession of our land and territory, whether in the south or in the north, is of utmost importance for ensuring the security and sovereignty of our country which is the responsibility of every Bhutanese citizen.

In many parts of the world today millions of people are facing serious problems and hardship from disease, famine, and war. In Bhutan, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the benefits of peace, stability, and progress. We must never take such blessings and good fortune for granted. It is important for the government and people to always strive selflessly to ensure the progress and well being of our country, and to serve and protect the glorious Pelden Drukpa, particularly when our nation is facing a difficult period.

I am very happy today to be able to celebrate our National Day together with our people like members of one family. On this happy and auspicious occasion, I would like to express my Tashi Delek to all our people in the 20 dzongkhags of Bhutan.

His Majesty informed the public that, after seeking the views of the people across the country, the Constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan would be finalised to establish the legal foundation for governance by the people. His Majesty commended the serving government for providing good governance since their election in 1998 and informed the people that the number of ministries would be expanded next year. king

The government, said His Majesty, would hold peaceful negotiations with the Indian militant groups, which were illegally camped on Bhutanese soil.

If they refused to remove the main camp which was used as their headquarter, the government would have no choice but to use military force to remove them from Bhutan. Announcing the resettlement of 600 landless families, His Majesty said it was important to provide livelihood and improve the well being of the 80 percent of the population which depended on agriculture.

Contributed by Kinga Dema for KUENSEL, Bhutan's national newspaper, 2002
His Majesty the King's National Day Speech in Trashiyangtse 2005
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