Perth, Australia

Foreign Minister says Bhutanese going to and coming from Australia will even out in 5 to 6 years

The Foreign Minister Dasho (Dr) Tandi Dorji said there are 32,258 Bhutanese in 113 countries registered with various Bhutanese embassies and missions, however, this does not include the number of Bhutanese who have not registered.

He said since 2020 due to the pandemic the government has started calculating the number of Bhutanese abroad and an App is almost complete to add the numbers of people. 

Lyonpo said that the data would be released every quarter.

The highest numbers of Bhutanese abroad as per those who registered are 10,911 in Australia.

However, Lyonpo said that the Australian population and housing census of October 2021 showed around 12,500 identifying themselves as Bhutanese while the Bhutanese Ambassador feels the total numbers there are around 15,000.

This is followed by India at 9,519 and Kuwait at 3,184 people.

The Foreign Minister said that the large numbers of Bhutanese going to Australia in 2021 and 2022 has caused some panic but for perspective there are around 32,000 unemployed youths who are working as Desuups.

Lyonpo said he feels that in another 5 or 6 years the numbers of people leaving and coming back will even out, and even those who get Permanent Residency will also be coming back.

He said around 5,000 people may have left Bhutan for Australia in 2021.

He said the Gyalsung program is coming from 2024 and under this all Bhutanese youth from all across the world have to take part in it for one year. Three months are military training but the rest 9 months are skills training.

Lyonpo said with skilling the youths will get opportunities in Bhutan.

He said a lot of transformation and reforms are taking place to give the youth an opportunity.

He said there is no need to panic, but if the trend continues beyond 2024 then it is a matter of worry and the government will have to do something different.

Lyonchhen Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said Bhutan is facing the triple effect of global downturn, coming out of the pandemic and now a migration as global economies and opportunities open up.

He said the migration shows we are living in a globalized world and every Bhutanese should be concerned.

He said while there is no one solution to prevent Bhutanese leaving the country, one way is entering the lower reaches of a high income category by increasing the current per capita income of around USD 3,000 fourfold to USD 13,000 to 14,000.

He said the state of nation is the economy and how comfortable we are with jobs, inflation and employment.

“The only way to reduce the trend, plateau it and reverse the trend is by giving opportunities here. The level of satisfaction depends on the kind of job and salary. Right now most are working to earn a salary,” said the PM.

He said while public servants in Bhutan are paid one of the least, elsewhere they need to pay for private health and education.

He said living standards are on the rise almost monthly in places like Thimphu.

He said no one going due to unhappiness and so if they create opportunities, then the trend will slow down and people will come back.

He said people outside need to able to work. He said the RCSC Act is being amended to opt in and out at Secretary, DG, Director and agency chief level.

Lyonchhen said the job needs to be attractive and they must give them space to invest here.

Another option is to give space for people outside to work for Bhutan from that country.

“In 5 to 6 years we can take advantage of more Bhutanese going out. I am not encouraging people to go. We are extremely worried. His Majesty is very worried. All educated youth and workforce are going out but we cannot fulfill their desires. The reform is the only answer to reverse the trend of people leaving the country.”

The PM said it is better to stay back and invest here as things will improve with reforms in Financial Institutions, Civil Service, CSO, Private Sector, service delivery system etc.

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