Opposition and Govt differ on allowing foreign maids

PM says govt will take its time and maids will only be allowed after a modern monitoring system is in place

While one of DNT’s pledges has been to allow foreign maids or help in a regulated manner, the Opposition party took a stand against it in its press meet.

One of the main basis of the DNT decision was a survey by the Center of Bhutan Studies (CBS) where 72.9 percent of surveyed parents strongly agreed that they cannot have a third child due to shortage of maids. This is also in the context of a declining fertility rate in Bhutan and growing nuclear families.

Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi presented an online Facebook poll he did on the issue. He said of the 1065 votes polled 807 said it is not a good idea while only 258 agreed with the idea.

The Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho said that while there is so much concern on entry and exit points it is an irony that the government is think of allowing foreign maids. He said that security issues should be looked at.

The OL said it is not a solution to allow Bhutanese youth to go abroad and work and then hire foreign maids.

He said it is an issue of affordability and so there are people in Bhutan and the villages who would be willing to work as domestic help, provided that they are give the right wage and working conditions.

MP Ugyen Wangdi from Dramedtse-Ngatshang said that instead what could be done is that the Labour Ministry could pay a part of the wages and the other half can be paid by couples. He said that the important thing is working conditions and respecting the human rights of maids and workers.

The MP said that getting in cheap foreign maids could also become an issue of human rights.

MP Dorji Wangdi said that there are a host of solutions available within Bhutan.

The Opposition party said there can be ECCDs, crèches and that the DPT Manifesto also recognizes and addresses this.

The Home Minister Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen had earlier said that a multi faceted committee is looking into the issue. He disagreed that maids represented a security threat and he gave the example of Singapore where foreign workers can be detected well.

The Prime Minister Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that the government supported the maids issue but it would first have a monitoring system in place. Lyonchhen said that the government would take its time and that only once a modern and digital monitoring system is in place then the government will let the nation know about it.

Lyonchhen said that if national workers can take up the job then the government would be more than willing to support it through various policies.

Lyonchhen said that raising the minimum wage will also have an impact on encouraging domestic workers to take up the job.

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