The ministry forwarded the case to RCSC only after a second letter from ACC insisting that it do so
The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is looking into recommendations by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on taking administrative action against the Director General of the Department of Employment and Human Resources (DoEHR), Sherab Tenzin.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, however, forwarded the ACC report and its recommendations to the RCSC only after a second letter from the ACC insisting that administrative action be taken.
After the ACC, along with the investigation report, had first written a letter to the MoLHR asking for administrative action against the DG and program officer Ugyen Tashi, the initial position of the MoLHR was to wait for the legal process to exhaust itself with a court verdict.
It wrote back to the ACC suggesting that given the case was with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), it should wait till the case verdict to take action.
The ACC was having none of it and wrote back to the MoLHR saying that as per its report there is no need to wait for the court verdict as there are administrative issues for which action can be taken.
With the ACC taking this line, the MoLHR in mid-February after the Losar break, sent the ACC report and letter to the RCSC given that the Director General is in the Executive rank over which only the RCSC can take final action.
The Minister for Labour and Human Resources minister Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said that the ministry after the ACC’s second letter forwarded the case to the RCSC. He said that once the RCSC takes a decision then an action taken report can be submitted to the ACC.
The minister explained that the MoLHR had written to the ACC given the similar nature of the legal and administrative cases.
The minister said that though the ministry’s human resource committee has the power to take action against the program officer, the ministry would wait and see what RCSC did in the DG’s case and then take according action with the program officer.
A RCSC official said that the legal division of the RCSC is currently investigating the case after which the Commission would take its decision.
One of the ACC’s recommendations to the MoLHR was to cancel the license of the Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) but the minister said that this has not been done as it would await the court verdict.
On the issue of loan interest rates the minister said that the ministry was in talks with the RICBL and BDBL on deferring the loan interest rate for two years as decided in the cabinet.
He said that an additional two-year extension would be given to class 12 students staying on for two more years.
In terms of how this interest rate extension would be funded, the minister said that the government would have to explore this including from the ministry’s own budget.
The government so far had taken a mainly defensive stance when it comes to the DG and the program officer.
In an earlier Friday meet, the PM said that the MoLHR has a huge unemployment task before it and the present DG is doing a very good job.
He said that there are only a few professional and seasoned bureaucrats and not many want to take that job.
The PM had said that the DG had asked to quit the post but that the ministry and the government had decided not to remove him. He said that the government has to think twice about removing anyone with 35 years plus service.
He said that the case will take its own course and the government would not rush as the administrative action is not going to help solve the problems faced by the students in Japan.
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in addition to legal charges against Director General of the Department of Employment and Human Resources (DoEHR) Sherab Tenzin and Program Officer Ugyen Tashi in the Japan and India case, had also recommended administrative action.
The ACC had also asked the ministry to come up with an action taken report.
The ACC in its report says that the DG Sherab Tenzin and Program Officer Ugyen Tashi had knowingly failed to exercise due diligence and failed in strictly implementing the Regulation on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent, 2013, which led to illegal issuance of license to BEO.
The report said that instead of investigating several issues and complaints related to the Japan case in the media and otherwise, the DG instead assumed the responsibility of BEO and responded to the students’ complaints (point by point) through email with copy to the Minister, Secretary and relevant program officials.
ACC says that in one email, responding to an official complaint filed by students against BEO, he was found to have used subtle threats to silence the students. The ACC report says that during the presentation of findings on 14 September 2017 of a monitoring team sent by the Minister to Japan, the DG defended the adverse findings on behalf of BEO, as if he was not a part of the monitoring team. The ACC report says that it is certain that the DG had proactively defended BEO primarily to favor Jurmey Tshewang.
It said that he even went to the extent of openly contradicting the former Labour Minister who was not in favour of the Japan program.
The ACC also pointed out how 444 students did not get back Nu 2.966 mn in refunds they were eligible to get as the rule had been amended based on a May 2017 note submitted to the former minister by the DG, Officiating Chief Employment Officer, Chimmi Rinzin and program officer Ugyen Tashi.
The ACC report says, “The cycle of revising the regulation was completed only after the investigation was launched, which only infers the intention of DoEHR staff to safeguard the interest of BEO. Therefore, the Commission, in accordance with section 137 of ACAB 2011, has decided to refer the matter to relevant authority for appropriate administrative actions against the responsible officials.”
The DG and the program officer along with the former minister is already liable for legal charges of financial gain from the Indian agent.