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Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering and Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) launch the report at the Hotel Taj Tashi yesterday
Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering and Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) launch the report at the Hotel Taj Tashi yesterday

Population control done on flawed data: PM

The rapid population control measure the government took about two decades was wrongly done. Unavailability of reliable statistics is to blamed, said the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering during the launch of Population Projections report yesterday.

At the current fertility rate of 1.9 children per woman and projected fall to 1.7, Bhutan’s population is projected to reach 883,866 persons by 2047, staying below the one million mark.

The birth rate is projected to decline substantially to 11 births per 1,000 population, leading to annual population growth rate to fall to 0.27 in 2047 from 0.99 percent in 2017.

This is not good news for Bhutan, lyonchhoen said. “I personally should be blamed because I had a huge contribution in this,” he said. “I did far too many vasectomies and tubectomies. I just went on and on because I was told Bhutan was suffering from some sort of population explosion.”

He said to make enough space to accommodate all the people, at the population growth rate of three percent, ‘cutting the tubes’ was advised to be the best plan. In order to keep it balanced, the fertility rate should be maintained at 2.2 to 2.3 children per couple.

This, however, hugely depends on infant mortality rate and health care statistics of the country.

Now that the country has a professional and reliable statistics, the policymakers and planners could use it for planning and policy formulation in allocating resources, identifying necessary infrastructure needs and improving service delivery.

National Statistics Bureau’s Director Chhime Tshering said that such estimate of future population could alert policymakers to major demographic trends and assist in coming up with policy interventions for sustained socio-economic growth.

“We are hopeful that the information in the reports would be useful for evidence based decision making until the conduct of next Population and Housing Census of Bhutan in 2027,” he said.

Congratulating NSB for coming up with the most important report, the Prime Minister assured maximum support to NSB.

Should the population projection be devised well, Bhutan could derive demographic dividend now, providing there is an efficient government in place. Putting right formulae in right place could also mean better revenue than hydropower, the prime minister added.

It is evident from the projections that Bhutan is not going to face the prospects of rapid population growth. On the contrary, due to sharp decline in the fertility rates, the number of babies born annually is going to decrease. This will lead to gradual decline of population in the school going age calling for a policy shift in the education system.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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