Labour Minister defends overseas employment program

The Minister of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo assured that the country would send its youths only to countries where the human right is respected and there is a Bhutanese embassy.  During the question hour session of the National Assembly on 26th May, the Minister, Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, said the ministry had safety concerns about youths going overseas to work, answering the Nanong-Shumar representative, Dechen Zangmo. The Member of Parliament (MP) asked about the government’s policy on overseas employment.

The MP expressed the opposition’s caution against the overseas employment program, as well as its opposition to the government’s measures including the safety and security issue. She mentioned the opposition had learnt youths sent aboard were facing numerous difficulties and asked to the Minister about the actions taken to prevent these problems and make the working experience meaningful and beneficial to Bhutan’s youths.

Lyonpo first pointed out that the overseas employment program was not a new concept. The former government had sent 263 youths in total to India, of which only 106 are still working there. Some 18 people were sent to Thailand as an English teacher.

According to MoLHR the ministry makes sure all youths register their contact number and email address, and contact them on a regular basis. The Minister also said that they worked only in 5 star hotels or big companies. “The government, in the realm of possibility, restricts youths to work as a house maid or a security”. MoLHR has set strong regulations and it’s not that those youths are just sent directly to foreign countries, he said. Further, Bhutan’s diplomats in each country are asked to visit and see how the youths work.

The Minister emphasized the program would help Bhutan’s youths not just making money, but knowing how people work in other countries and their work culture. Giving Bhutan’s youths opportunities to work in foreign countries is very important as creating employment within the country in a couple years seems difficult. “Many young people are willing to work outside their homeland and we should not be surprised when a few of them face problems in foreign countries,” the Minister added. “When people live and work overseas they might have difficulties, but even in their home country there are problems such as not getting paid on time.” MoLHR has received only one complaint regarding the program and the only complaint wasn’t a big problem, according to the Minister. Lyonpo even asked Dechen Zangmo if the MP had a list of youths who had faced problems while working outside the country and to report it to the ministry with details.

The reason that the overseas employment program was created is, the Minister indicated, the country’s economical situation isn’t very good. Within two years MoLHR has initiated many employment initiatives including the guaranteed employment program. The total of 10,250 youths got a job date in various agencies through these measures. The Ministry is also looking at self employment opportunities for youths with the help of Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOIC), which has generated about 700 employment opportunities till now. The Minister said to give employment to youths was the government’s responsibility and it was working hard to achieve it.

Bhutan’s economy will able to absorb 42,000 youths and 44,000 jobs will be created within the country during the 11th FYP, according to the government. Total of 720 Bhutanese youths were sent to work overseas through the oversea employment program and MoLHR will send about 400 youths to work in Kuwait this year.

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