Sunday, May 31, 2009

From Macau with the concept of "special economic zone"

The southern province of Guangdong used to be the backwaters of China since time unknown. However, beginning 1979, the Chinese government introduced some serious economic reforms that included allocation of “special economic zone (SEZ)” status to couple of cities and regions – Shenzhen was the first city to be declared one.

The net result – these region have recorded some of the fastest economic growth in China - and in the world. Shenzhen is today the fourth richest city in China and a shining example of the SEZ concept. As a value-addition, millions of people got diverted here. Otherwise they would be heading for Beijing or Shanghai.

One of the recurrent debates in our country is the rural-urban migration, or more precisely rural-Thimphu migration - balanced development being a natural by-product of the discussion. We keep complaining that everything is happening in Thimphu. But on the other hand, how do we reverse the trend - even if we really want to?

One strategy would be to introduce the concept of “special economic zones” here in Bhutan too. To start with, we could have SEZ declared for dead-end towns like Dagana, Pema Gatshel, Tashi Yangtsi and Lhuntshi followed by other areas that do not attract any investments. People wishing to set up business in these areas could be granted tax holidays, income tax exemptions, power subsidies, credit facilities etc.

One of the prime considerations should be the creation of employment, which is beginning to be a major problem in our country. Driving the local economy and employment thereby releasing some pressure from Thimphu, in every sense, is something what we could possibly achieve with this concept. Not to even mention the balanced development and equity that will follow suit.


  1. Every day i check ur wonderful blog to read ur compresensive article. However, i've never posted any comment till date. Today, ur wonderful article, From Macau with the concept of Special Economic Zone, has really captured my heart and i think this same article has to be sent to the news papers as well. It would be the worth reading by all the civil servants for their though-provoking.
    Good luck!

  2. Oye Dorji,
    A thought provoking, and interesting article to read. However, bit confused when you compare our places like Dagana, P/Gatshel, Tashi Yangtsi and Lhuntshi to that of places in China. For sure, cities like Shenzhen was a preferred location both for Chinese government as well as the investors that were mostly from the capatalist world. Shenzhen economic activities were lured by the demands of the overseas, and it could materialize owing to numerous factors such as the cheap labour, easy access to port, and ofcourse Hongkong being next to it made the investors comfortable in every aspects.
    Nevertheless, it is a good thinking on your part. These places require some boost but prior to that there is so much these places are deprieved know for sure what they are in need of.

  3. My proposal is not to have anything comparable to Shenzhen. But I sure liked the concept, which can be applied here in Bhutan in a much smaller scale.
    In other words to have Bhutanese businessmen and entrepreneurs to move into these four dead-end towns where, to be very blunt, there isn’t even a decent place to have a whisky. But if people are given incentives to operate their business there, I am sure many local youngsters would start something in those places.

  4. I know a young individual who got a highly paid job, with attractive perks, but would be stationed in Mongar. When he applied for the job he knew he would be stationed there, but when he got it he was reluctant to go there. He said, "Gosh! Such a boring place! What am I going to do there? I think I'll work with them only for about three months." Whereas, the contract was clearly for two years with possibility of extension.

    I think this says it all.

    Ha! Ha!

  5. While SEZ seems to be a truly wonderful idea, you might also like to check with the Indian SEZ scenario.
    There is a debate anchored by Alzajeera news channel on the SEZ.
    On the whole SEZ seems to be a great way to start with balanced development approach.

  6. Great idea, i must say..but dead end towns like pgathsel,lhuntshi,n t yangtse ..all in the east..that is not fair. what about gasa, what about zhemgang??? ..i think it should be divided into regions.

  7. Great post!
    Macau is such a wonderful place. Like they say in Portuguese, “não há outra mais leal” (there is no other more loyal).
    Helder Fraguas

  8. Hi Saro,
    I've been travelled and now I find many new things. The beautiful heading photo shows your sensibility, the autumn colours are really wonderful.
    Your family, friends, students, yourself... What is the secret? I ask the Gods to keep you so active. Thanks for everything.
    Kind regards,