MOEA targets hydropower and economic diversification
August 23 | Kuensel
By Phub Dem
The Sunkosh hydropower project is likely to meet its destiny within this fiscal year, going by the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) the economic affairs minister signed with the Prime Minister.
While the project is approved by the Government of India (GoI), the discussion, off late, revolved around the implementing modality with the Bhutanese side pushing for an inter-governmental model with 70 percent loan and 30 grant.
Even during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering at a press conference said that an expert group is working on the project.
“We will definitely pursue and there will be good news about Sunkosh in this fiscal year,” Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said.
For energy security in the country, he said that a reservoir scheme like Sunkosh was urgent and essential.
To this effect, Lyonpo said that timely completion of the on-going projects are necessary and that the minister, who is the chairman of all IG projects will sign compacts with all the projects.
The agreement, he said would set a definite deadline and targets for the project. By December this year, Lyonpo expects a breakthrough on the Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project Authority-I (PHPA-I).
With the intent to bring changes in legislations, policies, strategies, and Acts, he said that all paper works will be in place to implement the economic plans without any barriers.
Economic diversification was highlighted as another important target. The activities are focused on rural economy, targeting the agriculture sector.
Upscaling of cottage and small industries is another focus. “To make the economy self-reliant, rural economy is the base,” he said. Establishment of one-stop window for CSIs at dzongkhag level is one such commitment to complement this effort. This service is expected to create awareness on various opportunities, generate employment and conduct resource mapping exercises. The outcome of this target is to drive CSI growth in the rural areas.
The ministry is also committed to improve investment climate and ease of doing business to create an enabling environment.
Within the APA, each dzongkhag is expected to have one economic development officer by the end of the year. “The development officer is mandated to conduct resource mapping of each dzongkhag and lay plans to attract FDIs for small sectors, besides providing technical backstopping and improving access to market, finance and certification.”
The ministry has also committed to develop four industrial estates. By the end of the year, all facilities would be made available and the industries should start operating.
To increase the contribution of mining sector to the GDP, which is about three percent, the ministry is revising the Mines and Minerals Management Act 1995, the draft of which has already been submitted.
Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that the mining activities in the country lacked modern techniques. “Rather than benefiting selective individual, the Act should benefit everyone. The new act will solve the bottlenecks,” he said.
Other targets includes private sector development, promoting use of renewable energy, expansion of electricity transmission systems and import substitution.
Lyonpo also assured that the work of the ministry will not be limited to APA.
Meanwhile, the Department of Cottage and Small Industries will sign another APA for the CSI flagship programme.