Describing ties between India and Bhutan as a “model relationship”, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said trust, cooperation and confidence have helped build close relations between the two neighbours.
“We have a role model relationship politically, but in terms of economic cooperation, the center piece is hydropower, so we work together, we invest together to build our power stations,” Tobgay said in a first ever interview to a popular American talk show on Public Broadcasting Service.
“India is our immediate neighbour and we are extremely close. Our friendship is based on good will, trust, understanding, very good cooperation,” he said.
“Our relation with India transcends political parties. The architecture of our friendship is our leaders and from the Bhutanese part it is our kings.”
“Bhutan was the first foreign country that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited within three weeks of his swearing in,” said Tobgay.
Tobgay said Bhutan has a “good relations” with China, but not as deep as India.
“We have a 420-kilometer border that has not yet been finalised with China. We are discussing the border and we need to finalise the border” he said.
Responding to questions, Tobgay said the country’s problem is youth unemployment which is about 9.6 per cent.
“So we need to create jobs, we need to have industries. We need to have investment to create jobs for them. So while this is a problem, I acknowledge it as a problem, and I don’t want to see a single Bhutanese boy or girl unemployed,” he said during the interview.
Corruption is not a problem more than it is a risk, he added.
Our economy is small, but we have been given everything health, education, infrastructure, social security which is very important, he said.
“We have to work hard to ensure that our future generations also enjoy free education and free healthcare and that we have an economy that can support all this,” he said.
Tobgay said in 10 years he would like Bhutan to be self-reliant in a manner that our economy is green and sustainable.
“72 per cent of our country, as you know, is under forest cover. The constitution requires 60 per cent. We’ve declared that owe will be carbon neutral for all time to come,” he said.