Labour import and use made more liberal to help revive the economy

The flow of foreign laborers into the country has eased the struggle and difficulties in completing works in the construction sector. There are also certain changes in the system to revive the country’s economy, and to ensure that the Bhutanese workers can learn from the foreign skilled workers.

Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) Minister Karma Dorji said in the past there was no requirement to hire Bhutanese workers along with the foreign laborers in the construction sector, but now, the system has been changed to make it more dynamic, using the dependency ratio.

Lyonpo Karma Dorji said, “If a contractor employs two to three Bhutanese workers, then they will get more foreign workers. The more they employ our own Bhutanese, the more they will get the foreign workers. We want to ensure that Bhutanese worker gets access to learning skills.”

In addition, if a contractor wants to shorten their duration of construction, they can then employe more number of workers. MoLHR will support the contractors by giving them the feasibility of importation of more workers compared to the past, to save time, he said.

In the past, a building owner needed permits for 10 workers to complete a building in one year, but now, permits for additional foreign laborers are approved if anyone wants to complete a building in 6 months.

That way, Lyonpo said, it saves a lot of time, and that the remaining time can be used in economic developmental activities, which is most required at this point of time.

Likewise, “The standard of occupation for the laborers is also made flexible and dynamic. We now have a system of re-deployment, wherein the foreign laborers within the country can work in other firms after completing their existing project,” Lyonpo added.

Instead of foreign laborers exiting the country after the completion of their project, Lyonpo said, the re-deployment system can reduce the burden on the economy, given the pandemic situation.

“The laborers can now be hired within the contractors. This process will not only ease the burden in importation of new foreign laborers, but it will save lots of time, and also reduce the costs on quarantine. The associated risks can also be prevented,” Lyonpo added.

However, if the foreign laborers are in the country for complete three years, they will have to exit as per the immigration rules. Otherwise, they can choose to stay, if accepted by the local contractors.

The ministry’s concern is to prioritize the completion of government projects awarded during the pandemic time, and help revive country’s economy as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo said, “We have enough quarantine facilities, now that the quarantine system is lifted for the domestic travelers and the number of days in the quarantine for people coming from abroad is reduced to 5 days.”

MoLHR has imported more than 21,000 foreign laborers, and in just 4 months (February to May 2022), more than 7,000 foreign laborers have entered the country.  

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