THIMPHU, BHUTAN (11 September 2017) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Wencai Zhang, on a 3-day visit to Bhutan, met with Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Human Settlement Lyonpo Dorji Chorden and Finance Minister and ADB Governor Lyonpo Namgay Dorji to discuss ADB operations as well as the future direction of its partnership with Bhutan.
Mr. Zhang held discussions with Governor of the Royal Monetary Authority Dasho Penjore. He also visited project sites in Thimphu, including the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital related to the proposed Health System Strengthening project and the One-Gewog-One-Product project office supported under an ADB technical assistance to enhance competitiveness of high-value agricultural and artisan products.
“For more than 35 years, Bhutan and ADB have worked together to achieve the country’s development goals,” Mr. Zhang said. “ADB’s country program is always well aligned with the Royal Government of Bhutan’s national strategies, to promote the holistic development and achieve greater Gross National Happiness for her population. We hope to strengthen our partnership even further in the coming years, including support to the health and skills development sectors.”
ADB plans to increase the resources available to Bhutan for 2018-2020 for its indicative investment program, balancing investment in physical infrastructure and human capital investment. The new ADB-Bhutan Country Partnership Strategy will be aligned with the timing and objectives of Bhutan’s Twelfth Five Year Plan (2018-2023), which is being formulated. ADB also plans to strengthen its field office to enhance country operations in Bhutan.
ADB has been supporting the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1982. As of end of 2016, it has approved sovereign loans totaling almost $500 million, grants amounting to $222.4 million, and technical assistance projects totaling $73.48 million.
In recent years, ADB operations in Bhutan have focused on energy, transport, urban development, and public sector management. ADB has committed resources to help Bhutan achieve high rates of economic growth and poverty reduction by supporting rural electrification, hydropower, road improvement, urban infrastructure, and finance sector development. In the future, ADB will also provide support to address climate change and promote private sector development.
In his discussions, Mr. Zhang encouraged Bhutan to actively take part in regional cooperation programs. “Regional cooperation can help Bhutan develop its full potential by improving connectivity with neighboring countries, facilitating trade, and further fostering tourism development,” he said.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.