One of the biggest challenges facing the economy is the lack of labourers to carry on a spate of construction activities from hydropower to government projects to private construction.
This is especially so when Construction take up the largest share of the GDP and is thus vital to starting any economic recovery.
The Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that a total of 2,000 bedded quarantine centers are coming up in the south and once they are complete then foreign workers will be allowed to come in under the same rules of 21-day quarantine.
The quarantine centers are being constructed on Royal Command of His Majesty The King.
The same rules will also apply for Bhutanese and any tourists.
Lyonchhen said that of the 2,000 beds the 1,000 beds structure of 400 in Phuentsholing, 200 in Samtse, 200 in Gelephu and 200 in Samdrupjongkhar will be temporary ones and the 1,000 beds one will be a more permanent structure.
He said that until these centers do not come up then additional workers cannot be entertained.
The Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said, “Allowing labor in the country is really contingent on construction of the quarantine facilities and once we finish construction then we will allow in labourers as long as they quarantine and they are safe, but just now the restriction on the labour is primarily due to the lack of quarantine facilities.”
“So once the quarantine facilities are ready and running about we will allow in Indian labourers. There are no restrictions as long as people are willing to stay in quarantine,” added the minister.
Dasho, however, said that the government cannot compromise and waive off quarantine.
The Minister of Economic Affairs Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that Construction is a low hanging fruit to revive the economy as it does not require any new programs and design but it is simply about bringing in foreign workers.
Lyonpo said that a lot of buildings are half complete and there are many projects and so allowing in labourers in large numbers after completing quarantine will provide a huge relief to the people and the economy.
In hydropower too, the MoEA plans to get its labour requirement to the full strength of 2,500 in Punatsangchu II project by December 2021 against the current force of 1,000 workers by using these quarantine centers.
Lyonpo said that the quarantine centers in Samtse, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar are nearing completion and may even by done by this month.
He said the one in Phuentsholing may take a little more time due to the lockdown.
The new quarantine centers will not only have far more capacity than hotels but they are also expected to lower the costs for contractors bringing in foreign workers.
Their location away from major population centers will also help prevent any potential outbreaks from them.