Dantak and Imtrat agree to bring non-uniformed workers under Immigration laws

The National Council (NC) held discussions on the follow-up report on resolutions of the 17th Session of the National Council on foreign workers ceiling which has been exceeded. One of the main issues in the resolution was in bringing around 3,000 foreign workers employed by Project DANTAK and 2,000 by IMTRAT under the local Immigration and Labour laws.

Regarding the mainstreaming of the non-uniformed foreign workers of project DANTAK and IMTRAT under the prevailing laws, the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources responded that they set a joint consultative meeting with project DANTAK and IMTRAT along with Department of Labour, Department of Immigration and Royal Bhutan Army on 30 August 2016.

Accordingly, project DANTAK and IMTRAT consented to bring their non-uniformed employees under the purview of Labour and Employment Act 2007 and follow the work permit system.

MoLHR said that the Project DANTAK and IMTRAT foreign workers have been included in the work-permit system from September 2016.

Immigration officials have started issuing work permits to non-uniformed foreign workers of project DANTAK and IMTRAT with effect from first week of September 2016.As of now, 1,870 work permits have been already issued to the DANTAK/IMTRAT, and the figure would further increase once they cover all the foreign workers under them.

The MoLHR said that ceiling for foreign workers was 30,000 in 1972. It was later in 2000, that it was increased to 45,000 with clear indication to bring it back to 30,000 after the completion of Tala, Basochu and Kurichu projects.

However, an  increase in the number of foreign workers to 50, 399 as of 31 August 2016 was seen after PHPA I, II, MHPA, Nikachu and Kholongchu construction works started right after the completion of Tala, Basachu and Kurichu projects.

Out of 50, 399 foreign workers, there are 20,265 foreign workers in the hydropower sector, and 30,134 workers in the non-hydropower projects.

However, the ministry is working on the proposal for revision of foreign workers ceiling number, and it will be submitted to the government for the approval at the earliest time possible.

MoLHR said that the approval of day workers along the border towns started from 30 June 2013. There have been approvals of 28,532 day workers to date. In addition, as of 9 September 2016 there are 6,710 day workers only with valid permits in the country.

However, the ministry stated it does not issue work permit for occupations, like babysitters and maids, as recruitment of manpower for such occupations is not permitted.

MoHCA said that the department has undertaken the construction of head office in Thimphu, which is expected to complete within 6 to 12 months time. In addition, the renovation and restructuring of the Regional Immigration Office building in Phuentsholing has been undertaken, which is expected to complete fully in two months time.

In pursuance of their request, with regard to the shortage of manpower, RCSC has approved the recruitment of 50 immigration personnel this year and based on the RCSC’s approval, DoI has made immediate placement on needs basis.

Further, the department would be pursuing with RSCS for recruitment of an additional 78 personnel in January 2017.

Regarding the lack of equipment to detect the fake Indian voter cards, the ministry responded that due to the lack of specialized equipment and training to detect such fake cards, it is difficult for immigration officials to identify the genuine ones

The ministry also reported that the inspection function of DoI has been adversely affected as it requires at least six additional pool vehicles to effectively carry out its mandate of regulating foreign workers in the country and prevailing illegal immigration into the country.

However, the proposal for new vehicles is being submitted to Ministry of Finance (MoF). The NC decided to write to the government asking for budgetary support on such issues.

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