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Male Wood Monkey Year: National Agenda 2004
The political reformation process initiated by His Majesty the King is expected to continue in the Male Wood Monkey year.

Bhutan expects to resume talks with Nepal on the problem of the people in camps in eastern Nepal and make significant progress according to the prime minister, Lyonpo Jigme Thinley.

The prime minister also said that socio-economic development should gather momentum in 2004 particularly in the absence of the militants who had cast a shadow on effective development in the southern part of the country. The trade and industry minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, will take over as the new head of government and prime minister in August.

The proceedings of the National Assembly are expected to become more streamlined with the adoption of the Rule of Procedure of conduct. According to the National Assembly secretariat, the Rule of Procedure will ensure that the discussions do not deviate from the submitted agenda.

The Assembly will also elect new royal advisory councillors in the coming session of the National Assembly.

Among other issues, the reduction of the personal income tax (PIT) discussed in the last session will be resubmitted.

The Assembly will also look at the bifurcation of the National Assembly and the National Election Commission.
As our country progresses on the path of socio-economic development, it is important to provide gainful employment to our people.


With only 10 percent of the 16 percent outlay activities carried out by the dzongkhags by the end of the first year of the Ninth Plan, there is much catching up to do in the Male Wood Monkey year according to the preliminary reports submitted to the department of planning.

A Planning Commission official explained that the activities were delayed because funds had not been finalised with development partners.

With the Ninth plan in the second half of its second year the government is upbeat about carrying out the planned activities with an enhanced assistance package for the Ninth Plan finalised during His Majesty's visit to India in September last year.

Among the planned activities one priority is to build the gups' offices which had been held back in the first year and the construction of rural farm roads, according to the department. The government aims to construct 560 kilometres of farm roads nation wide and an office each for the gups of the 201 geogs.

The department has two main worries: finishing the activities that could not be carried out in the first year of the Plan and the extremely weak capacity of the geogs to carry out the slated activities. That is why all the geogs are expected to work closely with the dzongkhags' technical units.

It is most likely that Paro, Gedu, Chukha, and Phuentsholing will be able to receive Bhutan broadcasting service (BBS) television live in the latter part of the year with the laying of the 110-kilometre OPGW (Optical groundwire) fibre network covering Paro, Chukha and Thimphu. The fibre network, which is being laid by Bhutan Telecom and the Bhutan Power Corporation through the existing overhead power transmission system as an alternate route to the existing digital microwave will also carry BBS TV signals.

The construction of two new hospitals in Phuentsholing and Dagana and a public health laboratory in Thimphu will be undertaken in the coming year. The ongoing government of India assisted project to expand the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital and the Mongar Referral Hospital will be intensified to complete the project by the end of the Plan period.

Considering the work at hand the Bhutan Power Corporation expects to electrify more than 600 households in the coming year under the ACB phase II project and royal government financing in Zhemgang , Trashigang, Pemagatsel Paro, Chukha, and Trashigang.


According to the Ninth Plan the economy is targeted to grow by 8.1 percent in 2004 but this target may not be achieved because of the global economy, according to the National Statistical Bureau. The NSB estimates that Bhutan may be able to achieve a growth rate of 6 -7 percent in the Wood Monkey year. Tourism and related service industries, projected to grow by 15 percent, will influence growth. Air transport in particular, with the buying of two new high capacity planes, will also boost the growth of the tourism sector.

The construction sector will continue to be the most buoyant sector fueled mainly by the on-going 1020 MW Tala hydroelectric project. The NSB expects a boom in private housing boosted by the national pension and provident fund housing loan scheme.

According to the trade ministry several new industries will come up in the coming year with the allocation of land in the Pasakha industrial estate finalised. The ministry will also operationalise the Foreign Direct Investment Policy which has so far remained on paper. This means that more applications for FDI will be welcome and decisions will be made on applications that have been received.

The process of negotiations in the process of accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also expected to start this year with the memorandum of the foreign trade regime (MFTR) submitted in February, 2003. The MFTR is a comprehensive document of the financial, economic and trade policies of the country which will form the basis of discussions for WTO membership.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2003
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