Many youths showed interest to work in the construction sector after the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) announced a wage increment on 29 January under the Build Bhutan Project (BBP). The wage increment was supposed to be given by February, but that did not happen, leaving many workers in confusion and disappointment.
MoLHR Minister, Ugyen Dorji, said that the inconsistency in the decision has led to much disappointment and confusion among the workers.
“When the expected pay raise has not become effective, it could be possible that it could lead to inconveniences in their lives. People working under BBP are disappointed, and also people who inspire to take part in the BBP are disappointed as well. And it is rightly so because we have made an announcement, and yet we could not implement the decision. So, we apologize,” he added
Lyonpo said the workers must also take the onus if they have been reckless with their money spending before even getting their wages.
He said the government has not been very thorough in the way they have decided to increase the wages.
“Having apologized for the inconveniences and inconsistency on the part of the government, I think the public and candidates, themselves, would be able to better appreciate why the government decided the way it did, a month after we made that announcement.”
“As far as we are concerned, the circumstances and the scenario have changed a lot between the date we made the announcement and by end of the month. The decision of rolling out the vaccination by the end of March was confirmed and with that decision everything changed in the calculation,” Lyonpo said.
He said that if the vaccination were to be rolled out, the expectations is that in due course of time it would lead to a gradual recovery of the country’s economy, and by extension of that logic, employment opportunities can be revived, though it may not be at a scale that is needed to absorb a large number. But as the gradual pace economic activities pick up, and so would the employment opportunities, he said.
The restriction on bringing in foreign workers to support country’s economy can be possibly relaxed, but as the situation evolves there is also a good possibility of allowing foreign workers.
Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that they have constituted a taskforce to review the overall foreign worker recruitment and management during the pandemic, and also to look into possible policy reform that could happen on foreign workers policy front.
BBP takes care of only the construction sector and it also has a National Engagement and Skills Training Program.
Lyonpo said, “When we decided to raise the BBP wage, we had our own rationale as the situation on ground was different. Wage increment was a very pertinent issue, and we wanted to attract them (workers) through wage increment, whereby once they are under us, we wanted to really skill them and focus on mismatch. Things were in the pipeline.”
With the evolving situation on the ground and country’s economy situation and the programs within the ministry, he said that he became very clear to them that going ahead with just wage increment intervention could do more harm than good.
The ministry plans to review the project comprehensively in a wholesome manner, and then come up with appropriate interventions or the way forward for BBP in sync with other components within the ministry. Lyonpo said he is not sure if the wage increase can be given in the amount that was announced earlier.