Bhutan's New PM: Economic Growth Needed For People's Happiness

Bhutan's New PM: Economic Growth Needed For People's Happiness

March 12, 2024, 8:31 a.m.

The new prime minister of Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom widely known as the land of happiness, has vowed to jump-start its pandemic-battered economy, while continuing to focus on the people's happiness.

Tshering Tobgay assumed office after the nation saw its first change of government in five years, as a result of parliamentary elections in January. Bhutan is known for its idea of "Gross National Happiness," as it prioritizes people's feelings of well-being rather than economic growth.

Tobgay described his country's economic situation in a March 9 interview with NHK -- the first foreign media outlet to interview him since his inauguration.

Tobgay said Bhutan's tourism industry remains in a dire situation, because tourists are not returning to the country after the pandemic.

Asked how he would try to balance economic growth with people's happiness, Tobgay said that, "you have to have both." He stressed the need to rebuild the economy, saying that, "the welfare of the people requires economic growth."

Tobgay said he will seek foreign investment for large-scale urban development projects in southern Bhutan that involve the construction of an international airport, a railway and a hydroelectric dam.

Tobgay said he would especially like to welcome Japanese investors for the sake of achieving sustainable development.

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