Ministry of Labor and Human Resources

Two lockdowns impact Build Bhutan Project

Build Bhutan Project (BBP) was launched in June last year but the engagement and registration of the applicants could be done only in the month of August. Few days after the deployment of the applicants in the field, the first lockdown took place with which they failed to facilitate further engagement of the applicants.

However, after the first lockdown they again advocated on the project and in between the first and the second lockdown, the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MoLHR) were able to engage more than 1,000 applicants.

MoLHR Minister Ugyen Dorji said that lockdown had a huge impact on BBP whereby the national attention shifted from BBP to the national lockdown. Lyonpo said, “Our target was to engage 7,000 employees in 2 years with 3,500 employees each year. However, in 6 months we were able to engage only 1,000 employees whereby we are yet to engage 2,500 more to meet out target.”

He said that they are behind the target and a bit worried. The lockdowns were not anticipated when they set their target, but despite unexpected situation of lockdowns and shrinking of country’s economy, they feel that being able to engage 1,000 employees gives them a reason to hope, but in between, there were some issues they have faced, he added.

He said that the BBP project was impacted not only by the lockdown but there are some other factors which contributed to it. The modality of BBP couldn’t be revised due to various issues and moreover, they have felt that the import of skilled foreign laborers has somehow impacted the project.

They do not have skilled workers, he said, adding that it becomes difficult to employee unskilled workers without the skilled workers as contractors are not ready to accept unskilled workers without a required number of skilled workers. Difficulty in import of raw material has also impacted BBP, Lyonpo added.

“It has been difficult but not all is lost. In fact, despite the lockdown, in the last 6 months we were able to engage quite a good number of employees which was never done before as a government coordinated program intervention. We feel that this is one achievement we have made even with the lockdown and other issues,” Lyonpo said.

Given the large number of people who got laid off or who lost their jobs, he said that 1,000 may not look like an impressive number but it was a good start.

They keep receiving applicants under BBP but there are lots of uncertainties like lack of construction work which is why the engagement is not happening as planned. The registration is open for both employees and employers all the time.

Lyonpo said, “It is obvious to not have any engagement until unlocking begins. Until there is more certainty or until we are settled down with the new evolving situation, the continuance of the project would be questionable.”

It is obvious that the employees won’t be working during lockdown, he said, adding that any issues related to them is a matter of concern whereby they have instructed BBP unit to look into the matter and do whatever is necessary to keep them engaged and to ensure that everything continues smoothly despite interruption caused in between by the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo said that they will keep enhancing the project and they will adapt the strategies and interventions according to the situations and circumstances.

They have been receiving few minor complaints from the employees which are expected and they have resolved them, otherwise everything is going well in the larger picture, Lyonpo added.

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