A national construction policy in the making

The ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) is in the process of drafting a national policy to guide the development of the construction sector so that it is inclusive and sustainable.

One of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, the construction sector contributes 16 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs over 3.2 percent of the labour force. There are more than 3,000 registered contractors participating in the construction sector.

The first national consultation workshop to develop the policy, with stakeholders comprising government and private sector, was held this week at the ministry’s conference hall in Thimphu.

The objective of the policy is to guide professional development of the sector, improve quality of the infrastructure, increase its contribution to the GDP and increase employment opportunities. The policy will also aim at addressing sustainable financing, improving coordination and collaboration among the key players within the sector, and fostering innovation.

The policy will also look at strengthening employment opportunities in the construction sector. Today, most of the construction workers are hired from outside the country. Thimphu alone has more than 9,000 expatriate construction workers while the unemployed youth population in Thimphu is around 10,000.

“There are lots of unemployed youth but they are not attracted to work in a construction site,” said Chief Planning Officer Dorji Wangmo. “We really need to see what is the issue and accordingly we have to come up with mechanism, strategy and enabling environment.”

The policy also expects to certify engineers, plumbers, and contractors, and improve coordination among the various stakeholders for quality construction.

The draft policy will be submitted to the Gross National Happiness Commission for approval. The government appropriations reveal that about 60 percent of the total outlay is allocated for procurement, out of which 80 percent accounts for procurement of construction works.

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