ACC rejects call for reinvestigation
Parents to now file case in court
While the dust is yet to settle on the issue regarding the Japan’s ‘learn and earn’ program, the decision taken by the government to defer the loan payment for two to four years couldn’t be any better, as acknowledged by the opposition.
Opposition leader Dr. Pema Gyamtsho during the press meet on Thursday said that the government’s decision on the issue is appreciated and respected.
Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said that while it is a very good decision by the government, the decision, however, needs to be acted on faster as the visa of the students who are currently in Japan will be expire within two months.
He said it’s a good opportunity for the youths to earn and learn in Japan. “Therefore, the government shouldn’t delay in implementing the decision faster and let the youths continue with the opportunity.”
“Be it government or opposition, we need to clear the problem and let the students continue. This is what we have been recommending to the government time and again,” he said.
Supporting the Japan program, the OL said that the Japan program should be made transparent and be allowed to continue as it is.
The Prime Minister Lyonchhen (Dr) during the last press meet also said the loan deferment should be enough to resolve the crisis. The government has also held the same view that the Japan program should continue.
Instead the PM raised doubts about the ability of Bhutanese students to work there.
Neither the government or the opposition have supported the parent’s plea for a reinvestigation or refund of various expense heads, as they allege that they have been overcharged.
Also, neither the ruling government or the opposition have asked for any guilty labour officials to be held to account.
Both have also stayed mum and not made any statement against the agents or the company.
One member of the Opposition party is supposed to join a government team which will be travelling to Japan to look into the issue.
The parents wanted to send a representative on the committee but since this was turned down, they have collected funds and are sending their own representative.
The parents who have already expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response said that they are now also disappointed with the Opposition’s stand.
“We met the Opposition party three times but their stand now is disappointing as we expected a strong push from them as the Opposition party,” said a parent Karma Wangmo.
Parents said that both the government and opposition party seem to be united in this one case to protect the agents from action rather than help the affected students and parents get justice.
Meanwhile, the appeal letter put forward by the parents and students last week for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to reinvestigate the case over charging of excessive fees has been declined by the ACC.
The ACC said the investigation covered all aspects of the Program with the primary focus to determine whether there were corrupt practices in the implementation of the program as per the mandate. “The ACC’s investigation did not evaluate the efficacy of the program design and its outcome whatsoever,” states the press release from ACC.
Based on the investigation findings, while the criminal charges have been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General, the ACC, under Section 137 of The Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011, has shared its findings on administrative issues with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources for appropriate actions, which includes but not limited to fixing accountability on the responsible officials, ensuring BEO refund the unauthorized translation fees and making appropriate systems corrections, wherever required, stated the press release.
“The ACC is yet to receive the Action Taken Report from the MoLHR as required by Sections 138 and 140 of the ACAB 2011. Further, the ACC may invoke Section 139 of the ACAB 2011, in the event the actions taken by the Ministry are not satisfactory or appropriate under the circumstances,” says the release.
The ACC said the issues raised by the representatives are administrative in nature and is the responsibility of the relevant implementing agency to resolve the issues. “The ACC does not see any ground for re-investigation on the same issues unless there is new information, evidence of corruption offence,” says the release.
The parents and students said that it came as a surprise to them that the ACC is not going to reinvestigate the case.
“While we respect the Commission’s decision not to reinvestigate the case, what we don’t respect is that our appeal to reinvestigate was not single-handedly voiced out,” said the lawyer representing the parents and students’ committee, Ngawang Tobgay.
“It was a mass voice, and there should be at least some consideration and action on it accordingly instead of just saying no,” said Ngawang Tobgay.
The parents say that their only hope now is the courts where they will be filing a case in the second week of February.