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Bhutan Millenium Overview

An evaluation of the major political, economic, physical and social indicators and developments since the start of the millennium provides a picture of significant and tangible achievements. Most of the planned development activities were implemented successfully and a majority of the important development targets fulfilled.

Indeed, the country has never witnessed such high growth levels before in any of the earlier plan periods, including massive expansions of the economic and social physical infrastructure. More importantly, this has been accomplished in a highly sustainable manner with minimal impact on the physical, social and cultural environments. There has also been remarkable progress made in advancing social and human development conditions in the country on the basis of the Royal Government’s strong social redistributive policies and investments made over the plan. As a result, Bhutan remains firmly on track to achieve the MDGs and has come that much closer to realizing its long-term Vision 2020 social goals.

The following highlights some of the concrete achievements in socio-economic development attained by the time the new democratically elected government took over. Bhutan’s GDP per capita has risen to an all time high of US $ 1, 200 in 2006 from US$ 835 in 2002. Even in absolute terms this represents a fairly high level of GDP per capita by both LDC and regional standards. The country’s HDI value has similarly been rising steadily over the past decade, with the 2006 HDI value assessed at 0.6001 as compared to 0.583 in 2003 and 0.550 in 1998.These HDI gains have come not only from growth in real income but have accrued as a result of across the board improvements in social indicators such as poverty reduction, expanded educational enrolments, impressive declines in child and maternal mortality and securing high access levels in the provisioning of water and sanitation facilities. As such, Bhutan continued to retain its place among the medium human development countries. These accomplishments appear particularly noteworthy given that only a few decades ago, Bhutan was ranked among the poorest countries in the world with extremely low levels of human and social development.

Politically, the starting decade of the millenium stands out as a critical watershed era in the history of the country. Most notably, the period witnessed the drafting and national consultation on the Tsa Thrim Chhenmo or Constitution that formally marked the historic transition in Bhutan’s political system to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. The new government was elected directly by the people on the basis of constitutional provisions and the Constitution was adopted in July 2008. The democratization processes in Bhutan was ushered in under the enlightened, selfless and benevolent leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. These historic changes in the political strcuture were introduced at a time of unprecedented peace and economic prosperity for the improved social conditions and general well-being of the nation and the people.