The annual ceiling on the number of foreign workers in the country is expected to drop to 45,000 in the next two to three years after the construction of the mega hydropower projects are completed according to home minister Dawa Gyaltshen.
He was responding to a question on the status on foreign workers in the country posed by Trashiyangtse national council member Tashi Phuntsho on May 17.
Counselor Tashi Phuntsho questioned the home minister on the increased foreign worker ceiling from 45,000 in 2000 to 53,042 in 2017.
Lyonpo Dawa Gyeltshen informed the council that in 1994 the overall foreign worker ceiling was decided at 30,000 including DANTAK workers. This was increased to 45,000 in 2000 to meet the labour requirements of the Tala, Basochuu and Kurichhu hydropower projects.
On 18th February 2004, the labour and home ministries decided to exclude foreign workers with DANTAK, IMTRAT, CWC and other international agencies.
“Currently, there are 53,042 foreign workers excluding 3,811 non-uniformed workers of project DANTAK and IMTRAT and 322 other nationalities working in various government and international organisations in Bhutan,” the home minister said.
On the increased foreign workers ceiling, the minister said that it was considered to meet the construction requirements of PHPA I and PHPA II, Mangdechhu and Kholongchhu hydropower projects. “Also foreign workers are increasing due to growing economic developmental activities in the country over the years,” the minister said. “Majority are engaged in construction and hydropower since Bhutan has a workforce shortage in these sectors. Besides the Bhutanese youth not only lack the right skill to work in these sectors but they prefer desk job.”
But this ceiling is expected to drop in the next few years after the ongoing hydropower projects are completed, lyonpo said.
According to a resolution of the 17th session of National Council the work permit system for the non – uniformed employees was introduced on 2nd September 2016.
Therefore, it is expected that with the completion of Chukha Damchu highway, the number of non-uniformed employees will also be reduced.
Lyonpo Dawa Gyeltshen said the home and labour and ministries are also jointly verifying the exit of foreign labourers from the country. “Wherever necessary, the concerned public and private organisations are fined according to the existing rules,” he said.