We Will Not Measure Bhutan’s Progress Only By GDP: Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering

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GDP is a 'wrong tool' to measure progress when it comes to the target of narrowing the income gap.

(Source: TNL Bhutan)

  

By Nima Kuensel

In response to criticism from the opposition that the government has not set ambitious Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that GDP is not a good way to measure the progress of Bhutan.

He stressed that GDP is a 'wrong tool' to measure progress when it comes to the target of narrowing the income gap.

In the first session of the third Parliament held recently, an opposition MP cautioned the government that GDP growth of 5-6 percent in five years for a developing nation is not enough, with capital investment and plan size of Nu 310 billion.

GDP is not the sole concern of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa

However, Lyonchhen said that the government is not at all concerned about GDP.

“Most of our pledges are for longer term, for social activities,” he said.

 

 Bhutan's Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering 

Photo: Kuensel

 

“Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) is a centre-left party. We will not measure our country’s progress only by GDP.”

He added that the government would be going the ‘capitalist way’ if it aims for more than 8 percent of growth as its target.

“That would actually widen the income gap even more and cause more disharmony in society.”

What the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa hope to achieve

DNT’s pledges such as: breast-feeding allowances, graduating from primary health services to secondary and tertiary levels, and to place a surgeon in every 20 dzongkhags, would not have any impact on Bhutan’s GDP growth rate.

 

People of Bhutan.

Photo: Tourism Council of Bhutan

 

“99 percent of our pledges are for the lower and middle income groups, which means there won’t be substantial improvement on the GDP,” the Lyonchhen said.

“As long as we try to keep the growth rate at between 5 to 6 percent, we would be doing excellently well.”

Economic Affairs Minister, Loknath Sharma said that a 5 to 6 percent GDP growth rate is achievable.

“If we achieve a persistent growth rate of 5 percent, that’s not bad.”

He added that a 6 percent growth rate is good enough to sustain Bhutan’s economy and the government could achieve more.

Social development and well-being of citizens are prioritised over GDP growth

“We have given the highest priority to well-being and social investments. GDP Growth rate will not matter like in a capitalist economy,” said the Lyonpo.

 

 The domains of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Photo: Sola.ai

 

The country’s economy recorded a growth of 4.63 percent in 2017, a decrease by 3.39 percent compared with that of 2016.

However, in absolute terms, the size of Bhutan’s economy actually increased from Nu 149.15B in 2016 to Nu 164.62B in 2017.

In 2016, Bhutan achieved 8 percent GDP growth and made it to the top three fastest growing economies in the world.

 

This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


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