Remittances from Bhutanese youth working in the middle-east was around Nu 204 million last year according to records maintained by the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited which is the only agency that operates Western Union, the international money transfer and payment services, in Bhutan.
Most of the remittances came from the U.A.E, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. There were 4,220 transactions from U.A.E, 1,634 from Kuwait, 1,296 from Qatar and 119 transactions from Oman in 2016.
This year from January to June alone the remittances was Nu 151 mn with 5,586 transactions in total indicating higher remittances for 2017.
This would mean a total of Nu 355 mn remitted in the last 18 months through Bhutan Post.
However, the actual remittances would be higher as youth also use other facilities like the one in Bank of Bhutan to transfer money on a monthly basis.
“Most of us working here send around Nu 20,000 monthly back home to support our parents. Since we get free accommodation and food, we send whatever we earn home. We try to send more when we get better tips,” said Sangay, a youth working in Dubai. “I am the only child and I want to help my old parents.”
Sonam, another youth working there, said he saves half of what he earns and sends the rest home.
But Tshering, on the other hand, said that since she and some of her friends availed loans to apply for the employment program, they used their earnings to repay loans.
According to the manager of Western Union, Karma Wangchuk, the remittances indicate that youth placed in the Middle East countries for overseas employment are increasing and that their earnings are positive, which is a good sign.
He said on the other hand, it shows trust, reliability and prompt services rendered by the financial payment service.
He added that under the cooperation between Western Union and Bhutan Post, customers can use the service for receiving money from all parts of the world but can send money to India only, which is due to objection from the Central Bank.
The Director General of department of employment and human resources in the labour ministry, Sherab Tenzin, said the main objective of the government for initiating overseas placement is to engage youths meaningfully, have them gain proper work experience and enhance their skills.
“Remittances have played an important role in many countries; it will have a positive impact for Bhutan as well. And it is a good news that the earnings of the youths working in the Middle East countries are in hard currency,” said the director general.