Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering reached out to Phuentsholing to assess preparedness and response plans, given the rapid spread of COVID-19 globally.
King Jigme Khesar, in the last three visits to Phuentsholing after the COVID-19 case in the country, had commanded for an immediate action plan given the frequent interaction and commercial activities with the bordering Indian towns.
Following the order from the King, the government intensified advocacy, health resource mapping, logistic and contingency plan. An evacuation plan for over 4,000 Bhutanese living in neighbouring town Jaigoan has been rolled out, partnering with private entrepreneurs.
Prime Minister Dr Tshering met with the working group in the evening. He said Phuentsholing must be treated differently being the entry point and also the economic door for Bhutan.
In preparing for the worst, which would be a lockdown, he said our priority should be to bring Bhutanese residing in Jaigoan into the country. As of today, work is in progress to bring the remaining 700 or less residents back.
The Prime Minister also met members of Bhutan-India Friendship Association and shared the measures taken and concerns regarding COVID-19. Prime Minister said that while teams across Bhutan are trying to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 with quarantine measures, we need adequate support from our people in acts as simple as being truthful in declaring their travel history.
About 343 people are in quarantine centers in Phuentsholing as of now.
Meanwhile, Office of the Prime Minister has informed that the government is in the final stage of formulating Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP) to address implications of COVID-19 in the country.
The prime minister and ministers are in the process of converging various proposals that cover formal as well as informal economies.
A National task force led by the finance ministry, an independent team of economists under Prime Minister’s Office, National task force for 21st century economic roadmap, volunteers from FLP (RIGSS), and respective government agencies carried out studies and drew up numerous proposals.
Besides the conventional monetary and fiscal measures, the government is also looking at different approaches to intervene in sectors that are directly affected and others through ripples, particularly the vulnerable.
The government is considering launching and implementing the ESP next week.
The prime minister reminded that while we are working to overcome the impending downturn, we should also be mindful of building long term efficiency as we restore the economy.