Parents and students on their way to file the police complaint on 26th June 2019.

496 Japan LEP youth worry about paying back loans

Youth are also awaiting the BEO court case verdict

The 678 youth who went to Japan through the Learn and Earn Programme (LEP) had sanctioned Nu 700,000 each from Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL). 182 of them have managed to liquidate their loans. Some of them have also managed to close the RICBL loans. There are remaining 496 LEP youth who still have not finished paying back their loans with BDBL.

An official from the BDBL said the youth can pay any installment amount which will be directly deducted from the principal amount. Most of the youth that took the loans had their parents, who are mostly farmers, as guarantors.

His Majesty granted Kidu to the LEP youth, and waived off the interest on the loan, including the three special Kidu to the three youth who expired, waiving off their entire loans including interest.

The Bhutanese interviewed the LEP youth and their parents, and most of them shared that they are unemployed and worried about paying back their loans.

One of the returnees from Japan said her daily life has been affected due to the BEO case, and that it has become difficult for her to get a job in the country due to COVID-19 pandemic. She cannot get any loans from banks to start a small business until she pays back her BDBL loan first. Therefore, she has no income to pay back the loan.

 “I wish the BEO case ends soon so that I can think of ways to pay off my loan,” she said.

Another returnee, Yangki, said she was able to find a job to make the monthly interest payment to the bank. “ I am confused. The case is still ongoing, and I have no idea whether to pay or just wait for the final decision.”

Similarly, the parents of one of the returnees said the loan repayment is a major worry for them, and that they have no idea on the status of the court case.

One of the parents, Namgay Om, said her son is still in Japan, and although her son is working, however, it has been difficult for her son to pay off the loan. As a parent, she expressed her gratitude to His Majesty The King for waiving the interest loan payment.

As most of the LEP youth are from financially disadvantaged background, it has been hard for them to pay off their loans on time. With the BEO case taking long, the youth are anxious about the verdict, and how are they going to make the loan payments.

More than 200 LEP youth, who returned home from Japan in early 2019, are anxiously waiting for the verdict from the Thimphu District Court.

 It has been almost two years since the case has been in the court, and they have not thought of what to do after the court case.

Meanwhile, there are LEP youth in Japan who are said to be doing well, but at the same time, there are some of them who are still struggling to get a job or a working visa in Japan.

Norbu works in Tokyo said he is doing well, and everything has changed after the BEO case was highlighted.

It is difficult to find jobs there, but they are still managing, he added.

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