PMO explains what it is doing about the Australia Rush

The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) said that like migrants from other countries to Australia, Bhutanese have also been leaving for educational purposes and in search of better economic opportunities. It is a case of people from low-income society leaving for one of the highest paid in the world. This it stated has started many years ago. Many more will leave in the foreseeable future.

The COVID-19 pandemic which saw closure of border in many countries, including Bhutan and Australia, have restricted travels and held back people who have already made plans to leave. Once the restrictions were lifted, there was a surge in people leaving the country. The relaxation of visa regime by the Australian government for Bhutanese have also created conditions for easier and faster travel and movement. It demonstrates the confidence of Australian Government for Bhutanese Government and the people.

The PMO said the government said it is always of the view that the quest for higher learning, of pursuing one’s dream, or of securing a livelihood for the family are experiences and opportunities everyone must seek in life. It also means amassing skills and capacities, as well as personal enhancement and garnering worldviews while we progress as a nation.

It said the government must not and will not stop keen people from pursuing such ventures.

“In fact, we have been facilitating in whatever ways possible, like helping individuals to sit for language tests or offering assistance to firms that offer the services. Health examinations for medical certificates are also provided now at Mongar and Gelephu regional hospitals so that applicants do not have to travel to Thimphu.”

“We say this with strong conviction, knowing how we are a Bhutanese no matter where we go. If we do well, it means our nation will do well,” it added.

The PMO said on the one hand, there is the perceptions that the government must do something to prevent or reduce migration to Australia. On the other hand, there is also the feeling that the government is not doing enough to support people from humble backgrounds to go to Australia.

“Last year, it was blamed for not printing and issuing enough passports in time and for not facilitating access to loans. No one said this was good and the passports should not be issued so that people will stay back.”

The PMO said today, the government is under pressure to negotiate with Australian government to do away with requirements for IELTS examination and broaden access to loans so that people can leave. A few years ago, it was blamed for providing scholarships to all Class X students to enable them to study till Class XII. The PMO said today, it is acknowledged that this decision was really helpful for many of those who have gone or will go to Australia as the minimum educational requirement is Class XII.

The PMO said it is the responsibility of the government to create the right economic opportunities, incentives and conditions for Bhutanese to live and work here at home.

“For those who are working abroad, we hope to encourage them to make investments at home. Bhutanese should work in reputed international companies from Bhutan and we must have a system for Bhutanese to work for Bhutan from any part of the world.”

The PMO said is the government’s earnest hope and prayer that many Bhutanese will eventually return home acquiring the level of education and skills which will benefit our country immensely. 

It said in the short-term, their education, work experience and exposure in Australia creates important assets for Bhutan. It said the launch of Gyalsung Program will go a long way in re-connecting young Bhutanese with their beloved country.

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