What has come under radar of Construction Development Board (CDB) is that many engineers are renting their certificates to contractors at a minimal rate for additional income. It benefits the contractor from not having to hire an experienced engineer at full-scale salary, and instead the job is done by unemployed engineers that have just graduated.
It is found that many engineers are working abroad while their certificates are being used by the contractors in Bhutan. Such practices are known as ‘Ghost Engineers’, where only engineer’s certificates are employed.
An engineer with diploma certificate and a mother of a toddler, under anonymity, said she stays home looking after her son but gets paid by the contractor to whom she has rented her certificate. She says that it has been a beneficial for her because the income enables her to stay home looking after her child.
“My contract period with the contractor is for 2 years and I am being paid Nu. 10,000 a month for my certificate which is half of what I used to get when I worked as a full time junior engineer, but getting all the time I need to spend with my newly born child is worth the sacrifice,” she said.
Another engineer with a degree certificate, who also wishes to remain anonymous, works as a full time engineer in a firm, and has rented his certificate to a contractor as his firm has never demanded his certificate. “I have been working with the firm for a long time and since they have never required my certificate, I have rented it to a contractor for additional income,” he said.
Tshering Nidup, an engineer and registration focal person of Construction Development Board (CDB) said, “We have encountered a situation where the contractor rented the certificate of a degree engineer, and meanwhile in place (of the engineer) deployed a driver to the site.”
The registration for the engineers with CDB was made mandatory from 1 July 2020 with a registration cost of Nu 2,000 and after every two years the renewal has to be done with Nu 1,000 that is deposited to the Department of Revenue and Custom.
The system hopes to eradicate the practice of ghost engineers, which in turn will additionally help create employment for the unemployed engineers and reduce paper waste.
Tshering added that as an outcome of the global pandemic, they have not been able to put in place the system successfully, but they are planning to monitor the sites strictly after the successful implementation.
He also said that if any cases involving ghost engineers are to be found henceforth after the successful implementation of this system by the CDB, the construction company hiring the ghost engineers shall be demoted and serious action will be taken on the engineer.
Chimmi Dorji, an engineer said that the fee for registration is not valid when the engineers are already subjected to the tax and health insurance.
“There are numerous bodies like CDB, Engineering Council of Bhutan, Zhabtoe Lhenkha, etc. where we are required to register and additional procedure for engineers,” added Chimmi.
It is observed that numerous construction sites are working without the supervisions of engineers, despite the fact that there are many unemployed but qualified engineers who can do the job.
As of now, there are 265 engineers registered with CDB, of which 62 engineers are working with the government, and 203 are in private companies.