Issues on unemployment and youth-related topics dominated the question and answer hour of the common forum in Zhemgang. The two Panbang candidates made good attempts to answer the questions coming from the inquisitive crowd gathered at the forum.
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) candidate from the constituency and former Labor and Human Resources minister Dorji Wangdi was asked about the unemployment rate during his five-year term in office, which the audience questioned has not been addressed cent percent while at the same time, the unemployment rate is shown to be increasing as reported in the media
He was also asked how he would address 100% employment rate when problems of the many youth graduates from few years back have remained unresolved, and now the numbers are said to be on the rise.
Responding to the question, Dorji Wangdi said, “Youth are future leaders of the country and they are precious gems and for that reason from our side, firstly providing education to everyone is important, secondly training them, because education from schools and colleges alone, it is not enough to get employed.”
“For this reason, after providing education and then training, and to make sure all gets employed, it has been our country’s aim and DPT continued accordingly,” he added.
In 2008, he said, when DPT started to run the government unemployment rate was 4.2% and DPT’s target of reducing the rate of unemployment was 2.5%, which meant it could do more by bringing it down to 2.1%.
“DPT during its tenure has worked and shown good productivity, and in future with an additional deputy minister in the labor ministry, there are more chances of solving unemployment problem in a better way,” he said.
The PDP candidate Tshering was asked about PDP’s pledge on education loans for students and providing stipends for unemployed youth.
In response, he said stipend is for those youth who are from poor background, who remain unemployed after graduation while facing difficulties in finding jobs.
To support this category of unemployed youths, stipend would be paid for nine months or six months time.
“However, we are not able to say specific timing, but it is for their expenditure and from PDP’s side we pledge to give it as a stipend,” the PDP candidate said.
When it comes to education loan, he said as of now loan being provided by the bank is not given on child’s name, but on parents’ and that too after having to put up a mortgage.
“If not, it is not easy to get loan, which is why students are not able to continue their education,” said Tshering.
The PDP candidate said the party would make it possible for students to be able to get education loans in his/her name and continue studies rather than in the name of parents name. Later they could repay the loan after PDP sets the repayment module in consultation with the banks.
Other questions to the two candidates revolved around party manifestos, pledges, and constituency development plans. Those who were confused about provisions in the manifestos asked clarifications from both the candidates.