Having crossed the thresholds on GNI per capita and human asset index, Bhutan was found eligible for graduation to the middle income country category in the 2015 triennial review by the UN. Bhutan would possibly be recommended for graduation at the 2018 triennial review. This means, considering the three-year transition period, Bhutan would be graduating by the end of 2021.
We have come a long way, and cannot afford to reverse our efforts.
This is why for Bhutan the 12th Five-Year Plan is so important. It is in fact the most significant Plan in history, if the country is to reap the fruits of the hard labour of our forefathers and the innovation of The Fourth Druk Gyalpo-Gross National Happiness.
For a country to become eligible for graduation, it must reach the threshold levels in at least two of the three criteria in two successive triennial reviews.
What we must remember, though, is that there still is a criterion – economic vulnerability index – that the country is yet to achieve. The 12th Plan must deliver this because economic vulnerability has the tendency to pull the country back to poverty.
Once we graduate, the country will lose access to multilateral LDC-specific funds. This, however, should not be the concern as long as the broad objectives of the 12th Plan are achieved.
We commend the government and relevant agencies for formulating the 12th Plan guideline that maximises GNH and, most importantly, prioritising the triple Cs – coordination, consolidation and collaboration. Among these three Cs, coordination is what we lacked. We appreciate that this issue is well addressed in the 12th Plan.
The guideline is holistic; objectives are ambitious, and donors are committed.
We must then ensure that our final 12th Plan and programmes, which will be endorsed towards the end of this year, must ensure that national aspirations are not overlooked.
This is why we feel that the role and capacity of our local governments and decision makers at the LG level are more important in the 12th Plan than ever before. Should the 12th Plan not deliver what is planned the central government must educate the local leaders on the risks and the stakes.
It is the local governments that identify and prioritise development plans. We cannot waste time in studying who benefits from what and where. Political parties must set aside their agendas because the fate of the 12th Plan is at the discretion of the next government to either continue with what is planned or to modify it or to completely replace it. Whatever the case, national goals should not be put at stake.
A vigorous and rigorous consultation is deemed crucial at all levels, including all the political parties. That way, the 12th Plan will be a milestone in our endeavour towards achieving an inclusive growth that is GNH based.
His Majesty The King has reminded the nation that we are good planners but not-so-good implementers. If the 12th Plan is about delivering success, achieving the international goals and materialising GNH, it is incumbent on us to work towards a graduation that is sustainable.
A successful 12th Plan will prove that the GNH-based development paradigm is not only successful, but also inclusive.