Danish assistance ends

Development cooperation 1 September, 2011 – After 22 years, the country’s second biggest development partner, Denmark, is phasing out its program assistance to Bhutan, with a final commitment of 50M Danish kroner (Nu 440M).

The 50M is the Danish government’s assistance for the transition period from July this year until June 2015.

On August 30, a high level biennial consultation, which is also the last, was held between the Bhutanese and the Danish government to review bilateral cooperation. “This year’s consultation is significant as it’s the final consultation in the present format, prior to phasing out of the Danish programme country assistance to Bhutan,” a joint press statement from the foreign ministry stated.

The Bhutanese delegation, led by foreign secretary Daw Penjo, expressed their appreciation to Denmark for its final commitment, which would contribute to the consolidation and sustainability of the results achieved so far. The Danish delegation was led by the head of department of Asia and the Pacific, ministry of foreign affairs, Martin Hermann.

From 1989 until the end of the 10th Five Year Plan, the total Danish assistance to Bhutan amounts to 1.9B Danish kroner (Nu 16.72B).

Denmark’s assistance to Bhutan has been in key areas of health, education, good governance, environment and urban development.

Foreign secretary Daw Penjor said phasing out means the official development assistance from the source would end with the 10th Plan. “In a way it’s an acknowledgement that Bhutan is doing well, and a recognition to Bhutan’s achievements,” the foreign secretary said. “We’re now graduating to another level of relationship in different fields.”

Daw Penjo said there are more pressing situations in other countries, where donors feel their attention is required.

On what it would mean to Bhutan the Gross National Happiness Commission secretary, Karma Tshiteem, said, “It means that, over the course of the 11th Plan, our relationship will transform from that of donor and recipient to one of partnership, based on mutual benefits and shared values.”

He said this is the spirit of the framework for continued partnership that both sides agreed to, and reflects the close ties that both the countries want to maintain.

During the last consultation, the two countries also endorsed the “Framework for continued Danish-Bhutanese partnership.”

The framework provides cooperation in fields of global security; democracy; good governance; human rights; environment and climate change; economic, cultural, commercial and educational-co-operation through private and institutional partnership. It would be submitted for final approval to both the governments and then signed at a ministerial level.

Head of Liaison Office of Denmark in Thimphu, Henrik A Nielsen, said from about three decades of development corporation, they are now on to a bilateral cooperation. “The development programs would run up to 2013,” Henrik A Nielsen said. “Bhutan has achieved so much and there will be political and cultural corporation between the two countries.”

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