Focus on regional welfare: Bhutanese minister
South Asian countries should think about their own as well as regional benefit while making decisions, Bhutan's Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said yesterday. Dorji said all countries in South Asia are enjoying political stability in terms of governments.
“It's important for political leaders to take decisions that will not only benefit their respective countries but also other countries,” Dorji said.
He made the comments after a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AMA Muhith in Dhaka. Bhutan is a small country with gross domestic product of $1.7 billion and a population of 6 lakh.
The small Himalayan country makes policies based on gross national happiness and gives importance to happiness more than economic development, its minister said.
“We can cut and sell our trees and become rich. But we don't believe in that because we want happiness.”
“At the same time, I don't mean to undermine economic development. Economic development is very important, but not at the cost of destroying our happiness.”
Muhith said Bhutan has great potential to produce hydropower and is already exporting power to India.
“We are also seeking hydropower from Bhutan. It seems that it should be possible,” he said, adding that both Bangladesh and India can get a lot of hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.
Although at a very low level, two-way trade between the two countries stands at about $35 million a year, with the balance tilting in favour of Thimphu.
“Bangladesh exports less because of communication problems. As India has made it easier, we hope our exports will go up,” Muhith said.