Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu
The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) is concerned about all the 3,724 Bhutanese (1102 Male and 2622 Female) who have been sent to about 11 countries (Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, India, Thailand, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, and Australia) from 2013 till April 2017 and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that all are well. This was the underlying message from the Prime Minister, Dasho Tshering Tobgay, when the opposition questioned him on June 16, 2017. The PM was asked what has been done concerning some Bhutanese, who were reportedly mistreated. The government had earlier said that licenses of the Agents would be cancelled.
Replying to the question the PM briefed the floor about the number of people working abroad and actions taken against two consultancy firms. Concerning one Consultancy firm, the PM said that the ministry of labour and human resources (MoLHR) received a verbal complaint against one Education Consultancy on 29th March, 2017. The Ministry immediately inspected the agent’s office and stopped the consultancy from sending the second batch comprising of 10 girls who were due to leave for Kuwait. The first group comprising of 10 girls had already been sent by the consultancy firm. The MoLHR informed Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Kuwait about the case and requested to immediately talk with the local agent in Kuwait who had placed the girls and to arrange for repatriation. With support from local authorities in Kuwait, nine were repatriated. One girl who is still in Kuwait will return to Bhutan in a few days after completion of her immigration formalities. The first group comprising of 2 girls arrived in Bhutan on 25th April, one girl arrived on 24th May, 4 girls arrived on 7th June, 1 girl arrived on 9th June and another arrived on 11th June.
Similarly, the MoLHR received verbal complaint regarding the illegal deployment of maids in United Arab Emirates by another Education Consultancy on 17th May, 2017. The firm had sent five girls to the UAE as maids, out of which one had returned. While the consultancy firm has been instructed to make immediate arrangements to repatriate the remaining 4 girls, the firm has been made responsible and asked to refund all cost paid to them by the candidates. The firms would bear the cost of repatriation and license cancelled as per Education Consultancy Regulation. They would also be prosecuted in the court in accordance with relevant provision under the Penal Code and other relevant laws of the land.
There are 11 Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent registered, of which the Ministry terminated three employment agents for breaching the Regulation on Employment of Bhutanese Overseas. The PM said that these agents were found to be illegally sending Bhutanese youths to work in Malaysia and Korea without approval of the Ministry and also illegally collecting money from the youths. The PM further said that MoLHR does not send youths to work in occupations such as housemaid, domestic workers and security guards since these occupations are vulnerable to abuse and the chances of misusing our people are high.
The government is also working to assist the girls in finding jobs, engage them in different skilling programs and provide loans to set up small business according to their interest, the PM said.