Our private sector is supposed to be the engine of growth for the economy. And the government seems to acutely want to project the image that it is helping the private sector grow.
But the ground reality is this is definitely not happening. A World Bank study last year revealed that the most common bottlenecks to private sector growth were lack of access to capital, market and skilled labor among others.
Currently, we are seeing one of the worst unemployment situations in the country whereby even university graduates fail to get jobs. The civil absorbs a handful but this does not really make a huge difference.
To address unemployment in the country, we must boost the private sector particularly, the culture of entrepreneurship. The latter would create more jobs and innovation in new fields and technology which is what Bhutan needs right now.
But then again bureaucratic hassles like cumbersome paperwork or lack of access to capital are hurdles that must be overcome if we are to encourage a generation of entrepreneurs.
Another challenge is that the country’s youth seem little prepared or ready to join the private sector. Their first choice is always the civil service. This might be because the private sector’s image is doldrums because there is so little incentive associated with it.
Low pay packets, lack of job security and no employee protection schemes are some of the things that deter youth from joining the private sector. All these must change.
The authorities must strive to create a robust private sector by facilitating better incentives and removing obstacles to a conducive work environment in the private sector.
We must also work on the education system so that we do not produce robots that cannot think for themselves and are swayed by the herd mentality. Every university graduate wants to join civil service these days. It is only a few who venture on the less trodden path.
This means youth should be smart enough to know where their ability and aptitude lie. They should know what they are passionate about in life and how they would want to contribute and make a difference.
The fault lies primarily in our education system which never encouraged students to think and analyze but were spoon fed and indoctrinated.
Later this grew into a larger problem and had repercussions, for instance, in the way people think that the best way to serve the country is to be a civil servant.
Yes, we can serve as civil servants. But we can also serve as entrepreneurs, businessmen, artists, writers, movie makers, travel agents and more. It is how you look at it.
Therefore stepmotherly treatment for the private sector should definitely go. Apart from helping the private sector grow, we must nurture a mentality that it is the engine of growth for the local economy.
That speaks volumes in itself.
Business Bhutan, January 18, 2018